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As usual, I posted this over at HuntingNet.com as well, but figured I may as well share it here too.

Success

The rain that had been pouring for the last several hours had finally quit and as I shifted my weight from one knee to the other, the puddle that had formed in my lap splashed down onto my worn leather boots. I had just turned to my good friend and hunting partner and whispered that we should be seeing action any time when, as if on cue, a tom turkey let out a gobble somewhere on the hillside in front of us. I quietly chuckled to myself as I shifted the call in my mouth to a more comfortable position. At the next sound off from the tom, I let out a few soft clucks with my diaphragm call. The automatic response of our new found suitor told me that he would be in our laps shortly. Lifting my shotgun from the rain soaked pine needles beside me I rested it on my knees and whispered to my friend to ready himself. As water dripped from the beaks of my decoys, the tom showed himself some thirty yards away. Just as his head cleared the last of the brush, the 12 gauge roared, sealing the bird’s fate on the second day of the season.

This hunt was a success for many reasons, the least of which being the fact that an animal was taken. Memories were made on this trip, memories that I’ll look back on years from now and smile, remembering all the good we took away with us. The trip had started out two nights before when a sudden downpour began while we were in the process of setting up our tent forcing us to seek refuge in the landowner’s barn. A quick cell phone call home could have gotten us a ride and another night in our warm beds, but we made the most of the situation and camped out on the bales of hay stacked in the barn.

Though the rain continued to pour for the next two days, we persisted and were rewarded with a fine Jake turkey on the second day of the season. His beard measured slightly less than five inches, and while this wouldn’t be considered a trophy by many of todays hunters’ standards, I was still immensely proud to have taken this animal. Not only had we outlasted the storm, but I had included my good friend on his first ever Merriam turkey hunt. Though he hadn’t been the one to actually kill an animal, my friend considered this hunt a success because he had been included in one of my outdoor adventures.

Perhaps we’re of a different breed, but we believe that the success of a hunt shouldn’t be measured in inches of beard or the number of points the antlers have, but rather in what memories and lessons you’re able to take with you at the end of every hunt. If you’re able to come home at the end of a long day in the woods knowing that you’ve learned something about the animals you pursue or were able to make memories that will last a lifetime then you’ve had a most successful hunt.

Just remember this when you head into the woods this year; even though TV personalities like Waddell and Drury may take large animals on a consistent basis, this isn’t what the true essence of hunting is all about. Take your friends and family hunting, include them in your outdoor adventures, make as many memories as possible, and you’ll find that you’ll never pull into your driveway empty handed again.

Good luck and safe hunting this fall.
 
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