Maybe Deer Hunters can Learn from Turkey Hunters
Let's compare and contrast turkey hunters and deer hunters.
Why do the attitudes appear to be different, even though most turkey hunters are also deer hunters at another time of the year?
There are concerns by some – actually, worries – that turkey hunters might develop the same trophy-only ideas that prevail among many deer hunters. In other words, turkey hunters tend to be more passionate about the hunt rather than being passionate about a trophy turkey or even killing a turkey.
Look at the media coverage and magazine stories about deer hunting, and compare those with turkey hunts.
I recall reading a lead sentence about the opening day of gun deer season a few years ago. It said something like, "a hunter pulled into the registration station and what he had in the back of his pickup was not something he had to be ashamed of."
Translation: Hunters should be, and some are, ashamed of bringing in an antlerless deer, even a buck with a small rack, to be registered, according to the newspaper reporter. I hope she was not a hunter herself.
Where is the excitement of bringing a deer, any deer, to be registered? That excitement prevails when turkeys are registered. That excitement exists when a hunter has been duped by a turkey. That excitement prevails when a turkey hunter gives up a Saturday to take a youth on a hunt.
Where are the stories about the deer camp camaraderie? About Uncle Orville's deer hunting traditions? Could it be that we're talking about differences between spring hunting (turkeys) and autumn hunting (deer)? In spring things are beginning to grow. In autumn, things are beginning to die.
In spring, hunters are seeing and hearing habitats transformed from a drab winter to a glorious spring. Does that set us in a different mood?
Deer are much larger than turkeys. Some even say turkeys are ugly. Deer, on the other hand, are beautiful animals in the minds of most people. Maybe what we need is a Bambi movie about Jakey.
Maybe turkey hunting is just too young, having been in Wisconsin for a scant three decades. Deer hunting? Hundreds of years.
Whatever the reason(s), we deer hunters could do worse than to examine the attitudes of turkey hunters and learn from their excitement, and their satisfaction of hunter success at less than 30 percent.
Please, don't ask anyone to estimate how many turkeys roost in Wisconsin. The last thing we need is a turkey sage.