My alarm sounded at 4 a.m. and I rolled from the bed to take the dogs out and turn on the coffee maker. While standing at the front door waiting for the pups to finish their morning business, I heard the upstairs door open and turned to see Dan making his way downstairs.
“What a blessing this is,” I thought to myself as he walked toward me. Amidst the stress and uncertainty of the COVID-19 reality we are all living under, the silver lining in the clouds for me has been having all my family together under one roof.
I have seen it mentioned countless times across social media, newspaper and television news stories, and even mentioned as a praise during prayer time – families are together and that is a wonderful thing!
Dan and I were practicing physical distancing by heading to the farm to turkey hunt. We were all living out our respective career and college lives by “working from home” and the trip was going to be a welcomed change for everyone as Gena and Tate planned to drive up to meet us for lunch and give the dogs a much needed romp outside.
After grabbing my coffee, Dan and I hit the road heading north. Normally, I’m not very vocal before 7 a.m. and Dan certainly fits that description. However, that morning we talked a lot.
What I enjoyed most was the varied nature of our discussions. We talked about topics ranging from our beloved Boston Red Sox to what type of chickens we should have at the farm one day. It was magical in that it shifted our thoughts away from the reality at hand.
Ultimately, we decided that we wish Mookie Betts was still a Red Sox outfielder, that the current Red Sox pitching rotation is suspect at best, and that our diverse assortment of farm fowl will include everything from Speckled Sussex chickens and Indian Runner ducks to Narragansett turkeys and Guineas.
Above all, we talked and, if nothing else, the current situation has helped me realize what a treasure that is. In the pre-COVID-19 world of device attachment and social media addiction, this most likely would not have happened. Perhaps, that’s one of the blessings that will come out of this crisis.
We arrived just in time to walk to our listening spot at the center of the property. In the misting rain, we watched and listened as the day came to life. However, other than the yelping of the one hen that came past our setup and another that verbalized her excitement from somewhere within the mixed pines and hardwoods, the morning was rather quiet.
On our way out, we discussed our plans for the afternoon hunt and decided to return around 2, after lunch with the family and a quick afternoon nap. When Gena and Tate arrived, our dogs Moose and Murphy hit the ground running and, while they explored the farm, Dan and I made a quick run to one of our favorite spots, Peterson’s Grocery, to grab lunch for the family.
Our picnic lunch in the fresh country air was rejuvenating after being indoors all week. However, I soon noticed that Tate had a concerned look on her face. “What kind of sandwich is this?” she asked.
Without noticing in my hurry to get lunch back to the family, I had grabbed bologna sandwiches instead of the ham everyone was expecting. Tate, it turns out, had never tried bologna and, for the record, will never try it again.
In spite of the sandwich snafu, our time spent together as a family was perfect. Afterward, Dan and I grabbed a quick nap, headed back to the woods, and successfully completed the fastest turkey hunt I have ever participated in.
We arrived at 2:15. At 2:20, as I sat down, I noticed a hen walking through the woods. Reaching for my call, I looked down and when I looked back up, I saw the white head of a gobbler trailing the hen.
I made a few yelps on a Buster Duvall “Butt-Kicker” scratch box call and the longbeard cut me off with a thunderous gobble and turned to head in our direction. At 2:26, Dan made a perfect shot at twenty steps and soon the trophy was riding back with us to Meridian.
Turkey hunters know that hunts seldom play out in this fashion. Maybe it was a reward for all the days when the gobblers had gotten the best of us and it was most certainly a gift from above in our current situation, as it took away the worries of the day.
This week, get outside, look for the silver linings, and, until next time, I look forward to seeing you out there in our great outdoors.
Email Outdoors columnist Brad Dye at firstname.lastname@example.org.