The weekend before last a black bear chased me from my turkey hunting spot at the worst time possible, when a gobbler was making his approach. On Saturday, I wasn’t taking any chances. I threw the fear card and asked my husband to join me at the root ball blind. It wasn’t hard to twist his arm since the option of hearing a gobbler versus the music of warblers, wrens and cardinals was clearly better.
Wes and I usually don’t hunt together. We figure we can cover more ground if we split up. And our hunting styles are different. I’m more three-toed sloth because I tend to hang out and call. He’s more mountain lion - always on the prowl. But when we do team up, there’s no pretense. We’re equals afield, and the independent woman in me likes that. Given the chance, I’d shoot a turkey out from under Wes in a heartbeat. And he’d do the same.
As we neared the field, the bird blasted out a good morning gobble. Without putting much thought into it, I sat down where I always do and Wes took the other side of the root ball. The next gobble made me doubt my choice, because I realized the birds had roosted to my hard left. The likelihood of them entering the field from the swamp trail was pretty high, which would put them directly in my husband’s line of fire.
Wes became a one-man hen band, calling with his diaphragm, box and slate calls. Truthfully, even though he’s a great caller, I thought he was a little over the top. That is until I saw a hen enter the field 80 yards in front of me. Next thing I knew, the whole flock began pouring into the field – three hens and three jakes. And they were followed up by big daddy, who was alternately strutting and charging at the jakes. The first hen ran towards us like a crazy woman, then forgot what she was doing and started to bug. The rest of the gang rushed towards us, too. Coming through the tall grass, they looked like an army of necks marching into battle.
Next thing I knew, big boy came out of strut and looked around as if to say, “So, what do you think of that, baby?” Instinct brain reappeared out of nowhere and pulled the trigger, likely out of concern that conscious brain would screw up in the midst of this adrenalin rush. A flopping gobbler in front of me proved once again that instinct brain had served me well.
Now, the privilege of hunting is something I don’t take lightly. I’ve attended too many conferences where the topic du jour was the idea this time-honored tradition might be slipping away. There are several reasons for this, but urbanization is often cited as a primary cause. There are many tentacles to the urbanization monster. It eats up wildlife habitat with its strip malls, parking lots and housing additions. It thrusts hunting areas inconveniently far from would-be sportsmen and women. And it severs people’s ties with the land so they are neither knowledgeable nor realistic about wildlife populations and habitat management.
When it comes to animals, people often rely on emotion as their guidepost. And groups such as the Humane Society of the United States manipulate that naiveté. They would have you believe they take care of abandoned pets by running your local dog and cat shelters but nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, HSUS shares with PETA and other animal rights groups an extreme agenda of eliminating American traditions such as hunting and fishing.
Apparently Rush Limbaugh didn’t get the message, though. As hard as it is to believe, this is one conspiracy Rush hasn’t uncovered. He is actually supporting HSUS, and has produced ads for them and provides a link to their Web site. It’s not clear why he would support this extraordinarily well funded organization whose CEO openly admits he’d like to see the end to all hunting. I guess Rush, too, suffers from urbanization, and just doesn’t know that hunters are the ones footing the bill for wildlife conservation.
Thankfully, there’s a group out there working to make this fact abundantly clear. The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance has taken the lead in challenging the popular radio talk show host. A letter expressing disappointment was signed by 28 respected conservation organizations and sent to Rush. As powerful as that is, making your voice part of the din is even more effective. The folks at USSA encourage you to get in on the act by arming yourself with the facts about the HSUS and its anti-hunting agenda. In addition, they urge you to contact Rush and tell him the truth about the HSUS. For more information, visit http://www.ussportsmen.org/rush.
I can assure you I emailed Rush expressing my concerns about his support of HSUS. My instincts told me it was the right thing to do.