Bourjaily: An Important Rule of Turkey Hunting

My own latest turkey hunting story is a sad tale of humiliation, complete with an audience to my bumbling. Someday I will be able to look back on it and laugh. That day is not yet here. So instead we're going to talk about my friend Phil (this is not some cute way of writing about myself in the third person. My friend is a guy named Phil) who told me a turkey story with a happy ending. Phil says his success was a result of being lucky, not good. I say it was the result of obeying one of hunting's most important rules.

Last week Phil walked into the woods in the early morning darkness and bumped a roosted hen out of a tree. He stopped. He figured a gobbler might be in the habit of meeting the hen he had just run off. He put out his decoy as a stand-in for the real bird then found a comfortable tree 20 yards away and sat.

All was proceeding according to plan, except that as flydown time approached, Phil began to feel intestinal rumblings. When the rumblings increased to the point where he couldn't ignore them any longer, Phil walked a prudent distance down into the creekbottom, found an appropriate log and relieved himself. Tiptoeing back to his spot, he saw a gobbler running full speed toward his decoy. He froze, and when the bird reached his fake hen he shot it. "I hadn't called or anything," he says.

What rule important did Phil follow? This one: no matter what you are doing in the woods, take your gun with you. If he had left it back at the tree, the gobbler would have caught him - metaphorically or maybe even literally - with his pants down. Instead, Phil got his bird. It may be better to be lucky than good when you go hunting, but it's most important to be armed.