When the bell rang, signaling the opening of the 2021 West Virginia spring gobbler season, I felt a sense of ease. Turkey season was here again — no more waiting, no more anticipation.
As the sun began to show signs of its rays over the ridge high on the mountain, I heard a faint gobble ring out across the farm and I couldn’t help but smile. I was exactly where I was supposed to be, and, to be honest, the place I most wanted to be in that very moment.
In life you may not always get those two things — where you’re supposed to be and where you most want to be — aligned at the same time. But when you do, you can’t help but grin about it.
Maybe it is the gray in my beard (regarding which I stand behind the notion that it means nothing more than that I have seen a few things in life), or perhaps I was just being sentimental on the season opener that prompted me to reflect in the moment and simply be totally present in the situation. I was all there in mind, body and spirit. Every ounce of my existence was in the hunt and fine-tuned to the moment.
I heard another gobble — this time on the opposite ridge overlooking a creek bottom full of white oaks.
As the sun began to warm my face, the small hillside farm became alive with the sounds of spring. Hens calling, toms gobbling at themselves and me, crows barking, geese squawking and the song birds were in a chorus of happiness and joy to simply part of a fine little spring morning. I was in total agreement on their assessment of the day.
Eventually, as sunrise turned into the day, the gobbles decreased and the turkey chatter nearly ceased. But it’s funny how a bright, sunny spring day can make you want to be outside and makes it hard to be in a bad mood.
Season came early this year, and that’s perfectly fine with me. To be honest, it is a long season for those of us who hunt nearly every day, and with the addition of a week, there is plenty of time to fool a gobbler or two into playing the game with you. I find no urgency or stress in the season because I know that one morning, maybe not today or even tomorrow, I will strike a call and have one answer — and when he does, I will have a chance of him walking toward me, and if I am really lucky, he will be within range for my shotgun while doing so.
The act of simply arising well before dawn, sliding on my old turkey vest full of even older turkey calls, walking swiftly in the cool hours before dawn to sit on top of the world to watch a new day being born is worth the price of the ticket being punched. And if one gobbles, even better.
This season marks my 31st spring gobbler season in West Virginia and I have high hopes. I am also looking forward to 31 more.
The spring gobbler season is open through May 23.