COLUMN: The spring gobbler opener feels like a holiday

It feels like Monday is a special holiday. But unlike Thanksgiving or Christmas, this will be the first time I experience this special day: The spring gobbler opener. 

Normally this type of column is time to reflect on past hunts and why turkey hunting is so special, and while I’m not denying it’s a top-3 season in our state I wish I could have jumped on this train earlier. Sure, you might be thinking, “Well why didn’t you just grab a shotgun and hit the woods?”

It’s simple – I didn’t fully embrace hunting until I was in college. Plus, it’s a pretty tall task for a kid to buy a shotgun, and the only 12 gauge my dad owned was out of commission. So like most college-aged kids do, I put it off for a few years. It wasn’t until January that my girlfriend’s dad let me borrow his 1982 Browning BPS 12 gauge that I decided I was going to hit the woods in search of toms. 

On that note, it’s kind of funny to me how hunters get attached to certain firearms, but I get it. I don’t think I’ll ever give up my cheap Marlin XT-22, there’s just something special about it that will keep it with me for as long as possible. And to bring it back around to the Browning, that’s the shotgun I got my first ducks with. And that’s the gun I used when I limited out on my second duck hunt. Just call it my good luck charm. 

Though I may not be able to share memories of past hunts, I’m fully aware of the feeling I get – that you probably get, too – of sitting in the woods listening to the songbirds in the trees or the bugs scurrying below you in the dirt. We all know the feeling of sitting down in “our” spot awaiting the beautiful orange, red and yellows rise over the horizon and peek through the trees while we dream of a monster to walk in front of us. Those are the memories I live to make, even if I don’t harvest an animal. 

As I take time to reflect on the last few weeks of scouting for some spots, I can’t help but feel giddy. It’s a feeling I haven’t had for a while, and it’s more powerful than the feeling I got on my road trip to the Chesapeake Bay for my first go at sea ducks. Maybe it’s the cabin fever that’s slowly been creeping up on me during this pandemic, or maybe it’s because I know I’m entering uncharted territory alone. 

So yes, tomorrow feels like a holiday to me and I hope it does to the turkey hunter reading this, too. I hope those of you also partaking in the season reap a plentiful bounty, especially now in this trying time. Be safe out there and good luck! 

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