You may remember that I arrowed a forkhorn buck last October and posted a picture of it in this space accompanied by the obligatory (these days) explanation of why I shouldn’t have to apologize for shooting a small buck, which is almost like an apology itself–but isn’t one exactly, I insist. Yesterday morning I shot a jake turkey. So here’s my non-apology:

I don’t get the whole pass-a-jake thing. I admit it’s probably arbitrary. I love turkey hunting, but for whatever reason the gobbler-as-trophy idea has never resonated with me. I’ve killed a number of toms but have never saved a single beard or fan or spur. On the other hand, I’ve passed lots of bucks in the hope of shooting one with bigger antlers, and I have racks on display in every corner of my office. Go figure. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the Stone Age artists painted animals with exaggerated antlers–not so much outsized beards and spurs. Maybe not.

In any case, on Tuesday I should have killed a big tom but didn’t because I forgot to load my gun. Thursday morning, on the same pastured knoll, I had him coming in to my decoys again when three belligerent jakes came elbowing in like a posse of street punks and sent the gobbler fast-walking into the honeysuckle. This time, my gun was loaded.