The last split of our turkey season opened this morning. As always, I dropped my son at school and got to the woods around 8:00. By 8:30 I had already missed a gobbler.* No big deal: I got to keep hunting, the turkey got to keep breathing. We were both okay with it.
What upset me more than missing a turkey was seeing two young guys toting shotguns, a bag of three or four decoys, and a popup blind into the woods. These two kids are part of a whole generation of hunters (plenty of their elders around here hunt this way now too) who think sitting inside a folding nylon cube is how you hunt turkeys.
I hate hunting from popup blinds. I don't even feel like I'm outside when I'm in one. Turkey hunting is supposed to be about wandering the woods after a long winter. Why spend a spring day in an ice fishing shelter? There is way too much to see at this time of year to confine yourself to the view from an zip-open window.
Then there's the hiding. I know, you have to hold still and make sure the back blind windows are closed, but how hard is it to hide from a turkey when you're inside a tent? Calling a sharp-eyed bird close while pretending to be a lump at the base of a tree is the essential thrill of turkey hunting. A growing number of hunters have never experienced it.
A little while ago a guy told me his turkey story from last year, and how on his way in to his spot he practically bumped into a strutting gobbler. He got down on all fours and crawled on his hands and knees past the bird to get to the security of his popup hide. It never occurred to him to sit against the nearest tree and call the bird in because he had never hunted turkeys without a blind before - and that's a shame.
*I am "Shooting Editor" of Field & Stream, not "Killing Editor" (if we had a "Killing Editor" it would be Dave anyway). Nothing in my title says I actually have to hit what I shoot at.