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The Rules of the Game
By Kimberly Reedy
WVExplorer.com Fishing/Hunting Editor
I come from an area where I enjoy the privilege of looking
out a window with a view. It's the very thing I love about hunting: beauty
exists wherever I look. Sounds and smells rekindle memories of former adventures
in the field. And this November morning they caused that familiar stir. I love
the smell of autumn leaves heavy with dew.
On my most recent hunt, I was out for gobbler. It was warm,
and the squirrels were bickering over the last acorns.
More from habit than from need, I sat quietly, settling on a
fallen yellow pine that had given in to heavy rain and soft ground the summer
before. I had a squirrel call in my vest from last season and cut a few barks on
it for fun. Almost immediately I heard the familiar rustling -- three squirrels,
nothing for a few seconds, then a good size gray bounding through the ground
clutter. He leapt onto a tree and shot up to the lowest branches thirty feet
Arguing, he jostled side to side on his branch. I really had
him stirred up -- more than I had planned. He was mad. As I came to this
realization, he slipped. I have never seen a squirrel fall from his tree. His
tail spun around the branch and swear I could hear him dig in with his front
claws. He belly busted ten feet in front of me and didn't move. I slowly padded
over, afraid I'd killed him. If he was alive, maybe he'd pop up in my face in a
really bad frame of mind. I nudged him with the barrel of my 12 gauge. He
unceremoniously sat up and ran away.
Then I heard a cluck and remembered my original intent on
this beautiful morning. I walked to the western edge of the wood to hide in the
shadows longer. Periodically, I clucked and purred. Two hens made their way into
the clearing, then a tom. He followed 20 yards behind, never entering the
clearing. Instead, he skirted the northwest edge of the wood moving toward me. I
began to sweat with anticipation but didn't move. Turkey have an incredible
sight radius -- 270 degrees -- and he was headed right at me, my Remington
parked atop my knees. He was near enough that I could see the blue in his face.
My shotgun sling slowly slid off my right knee into the leaves, and my head
turned to follow its drop. That tom cranked his head straight up, spotted me,
and made haste to higher places.
Other hunters might have tried to make the shot. He was
within thirty feet, and there was time to raise my gun and aim for his head from
I started hunting to prove I could provide everything I'd
ever need to survive. I can hunt, garden, and build a poor excuse for a cabin. I
could live out my days in the woods until somebody discovered me, and that
changes the rules of the game.
Life has rules. Probably a good thing most of the time and
especially on that day. I couldn't shoot a tom running like that. Those are the
rules. Hunt ethically, take clean shots, and hunt safe.