I have nothing but respect for people who can go out and find their own food sources someplace other than Wal-Mart or Safeway. Despite a brief tutorial on guns and hunting resources last summer from my outdoorsy-stuff mentor Dale Hendershot, I must conclude that I won’t be joining the ranks of those hearty souls who can pull off the kill shots.
Before you say, “Not so fast,” you should know that I report this news about myself after following the instructions on this sign in Burkhiser Hall last month.
It was my first visit to Burkhiser Hall, home of the Rangeland Mgmt program. I entered and made it about halfway up the stairs before I ran into this…
Is that…is that the state animal of Nevada mounted on the wall?
I continued through the labyrinth of taxidermy until I arrived in the lecture room exactly one week before the start of archery turkey hunting season (gun season starts April 18th for you aficionados).
It was very educational. A student group started the presentation by asking us to draw a turkey and a turkey habitat with crayons. Although my turkey was not realistic, I am proud to say I got the habitat pretty much right. The students briefly described the difference between wild turkeys and pet turkeys, then passed the presentation to the visiting representatives of Nebraska Game & Parks. The representatives spoke with the passion of people who know and love what they are doing, and with the detail of people speaking to audiences who share that passion, and who have quite long attention spans.
I learned the term “pattern a gun.” I got a review of basic hunter safety – always treat the gun like it’s loaded, wear orange until you get to the site, then cammo (the cammo was amazing! better than a stick bug!), and never carry your trophy turkey over your shoulder, or you’re liable to get shot by an inexperienced hunter. (On a related note, the speaker informed us of an increasingly popular technique called ‘scoot and shoot,’ where the hunter wears turkey feathers and crawls upon his prey in an ambush. He added that this is another good way to get shot.)
Turkey decoys made an appearance, along with slides identifying different types of turkeys and slides detailing proper sizes for both guns and ammunition. Extensive coverage was given of turkey calls and how to use them.
Several slides with little red dots on them indicated exactly where to shoot a turkey for a kill, and I concluded that the ratio of feathers to actual turkey body must make hunting turkeys very, very difficult.
A handy checklist of hunting-day supplies was available as a takeaway.
There was an evaluation form. Among other information, it asked, “Why did you decide to come to the Learn to Hunt Turkey Workshop?” Local cultural knowledge.
“Based on your participation in today’s workshop, are you likely to hunt turkey this season?” No. I will find other ways to occupy my time outdoors.
That doesn’t mean that my answer won’t change.
Did I mention that the room where the workshop took place was filled with more taxidermied animals donated by Cabela’s?
I think this one might be a moose.
And this one is DEFINITELY a bighorn sheep.
Below is an elk.
There was more. SO. MUCH. MORE. These were merely the few examples I could capture without outing myself as a taxidermy tourist.
When I revealed to people that I had gone to the workshop, wanting to talk about how strange it was, they commonly lit up and exclaimed, “Oh yeah! I’m going in a few weeks,” or, “I used to go all the time with my dad,” or “my dad used to go all the time.” My own dad took and takes me swimming and bike riding and canoeing and kayaking and geocaching, but I am happy to report that whatever we ate came from Burger’s or Sterk’s or Strack’s or Jewel. I would rather ride a bike down the trail to the laundromat/ice cream shop than sit in a blind all day and hope my arrow hits its mark. Frankly, I find even the stuffed versions of these beasts kind of frightening. I am also not the world’s most patient person.
The good news for me from these same informants is that wild turkey doesn’t taste nearly as good as the Butterball already prepped at the store.
According to evidence provided by Elsa in Justice Studies, turkeys are also not very smart. She contributed the final photo of this post, poor Tom the Turkey attempting to make little jakes and jennys with poor Tilda the Turkey by…that’s right…standing on top of her. Just standing there…
Don’t worry, Tom. You are not alone. We all have a lot to learn.
If my few loyal readers are interested in learning more about hunting turkeys in Nebraska, here is the link to the hunter education site.