“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
Henry David Thoreau, Walden 1854
While looking to provide the series of lessons for our Turkey School series, I read and reread a number of books and watched a few videos to see where many authors start when trying to relay beginner knowledge about hunting spring turkeys. In most cases, the books and videos begin with tips on scouting or beginning calling skills. I think I will leave much of those concepts on the shelf for a few lessons and begin our discussion with basic woodsmanship skills as they relate to hunting spring turkeys.
Our world has changed at an unbelievable pace in the past few decades. A more rural society has become much more urban and suburban. Our new world drives a need for constant communication, fed by cell phones, smart phones, web based information streaming news, sports reports, Facebook posts and Tweets. We get into our cars, drive the commute with closed windows in our vehicles and attempt to close off the outside world. We tend to attempt to eliminate noise as white noise or background noise. If you do not fit into the group I have mentioned, you are both lucky and in a growing minority. Our modern environment tends to take us away from the basics of understanding nature, the woods and how to “understand” this game. Our pace of life tends to make us lose patience quickly, seek immediate feedback or reward and forget that any sport requires practice and patience to acquire a level of proficiency to make us successful on a routine basis.Over the past decade, I have had the opportunity to introduce a number of novices to hunting in Colorado, through our Hunter Outreach Program. A consistent theme with most novice hunters is a lack of experience with some basic skills of woodsmanship. While the student reading this lesson may not find that fact a surprise, you should find it fundamental in the learning progression to becoming a successful hunter. Learning to walk quietly in the woods, see tracks and understand what critter made them, listen to the sounds of the forest and determine those which are announcing your presence or the presence of another. Learning the skill of patience (yes, I am convinced patience is a learned skill), sitting motionless for more than 30 seconds at a time, understanding the art of camouflage and perhaps the most critical skill – learning to decelerate.