Most of the time, in the fall, when you harvest a young turkey, it

will weigh from 12 to 15 pounds, but that is because it likely was hatched

in May, and has had a few months to eat berries, grasshoppers, and by now,

quite a few acorns. 

Most of the time, in the fall, when you harvest a young turkey, it
will weigh from 12 to 15 pounds, but that is because it likely was hatched
in May, and has had a few months to eat berries, grasshoppers, and by now,
quite a few acorns.  But as I have often pointed out, many years and this
year in particular, a large number of hens nested late, causing a pretty
good percentage of our young turkeys to hatch in late July and into August.
Those turkeys have a rough time of it when it starts getting cold in
November and December, because they haven't gained the size and body weight
a turkey needs to survive the winter.  And they are really easy targets for
the wild turkey¹s greatest predator, the great horned owl, which sees them
roosting in trees with the leaves gone, and can quite effectively hit them
with strong flight from above or beside, and break their necks.  If you are
a young turkey hatched out in August, you have a reason to be upset with
your mother.

At the time of this writing, I have not killed a fall turkey yet, but I have
confidence I will. About every year for the past six or eight years, I have
vowed to never hunt fall turkeys again, because of the stress it causes me.
You see, I enjoy being out there in the woods in October, but I used to bow
hunt a lot for deer, and I enjoyed it immensely.  There was something
wonderful about working a self-climbing tree stand up an oak tree, and
watching the sun come up, or go down, with all the things you can see in the
woods in the fall. As I grew older it became harder to do it, and more
difficult to sit comfortably and patiently in a tree stand. Besides that, I
have a little bit of highdrophobia. I keep thinking that while I am sitting
in that tree stand, I might be sneaking along some ridgetop seeing more
deer, or slipping along a creek bottom where some huge buck is coming to get
a drink. I often watched big old gobblers walk past in easy gun range, but
just a little past my archery ability.  So I sort of backed away from the
bowhunting, so I could walk more and shoot turkeys with a shotgun, and what
has happened?  Now I don't see any of those big old gobblers, instead I sit
down to rest my legs and deer walk by.  That is tremendously stressful.

I have thought often about sitting in a tree stand with both a bow
and a shotgun, an archery tag in one pocket and a turkey tag in the other.
But that is illegal, for some screwball reason.  It probably is a good
thing.  I would get up there about 20 feet above the ground, trying to hang
my bow on a limb and hold the shotgun, and drop both of them.  Anyway, this
afternoon, after I write this, I will be out in the woods and enjoying the
beauty of October far from the civilized world.  It is a good way to live,
but I have to warn any of you who are thinking about quitting your job and
trying it, there isn¹t much of a way to pay for health insurance or build a
sizeable retirement account if you live like I do.  And you have to eat lots
of deer, turkey, squirrel and fish.