We were a mess.
Both Steve and I were hacking and coughing, suffering the lasting effects of a spring cold. I was still wrestling with a pulled back muscle having had to lift our 65 pound yellow Lab up the steps several days before.
The last place you would think you would find us was in theturkey woods.
But it was opening day. Nothing stops you on opening day.
The hills around our Elizabethtown home have provided many a good day in the woods. And we were hoping that today it would be no different.But it certainly was special. The first of May ranks right up there with the first of April if you're a trout fisherman or Oct. 1 for pheasant hunters.
The day eventually dawned with a beautiful sunrise over Lake Champlain. But we were out long before that. Clothes laid out meticulously the night before (that's the only way you're not going to forget anything at that hour of the morning), slipped on easily. The early season long johns added a familiar warmth.
The hike up the hill brought back memories of last year's hunt – Steve's head-shaking miss and our return two days later when I connected on the same gobbler. It seemed a bit steeper than last year, but then that might have been because I was working on less oxygen because of that head cold.
The first locator call of the year brought two quick gobbles– on the other side of the road. Undaunted, we plowed up the hill, both of us suppressing coughs and sniffles as we went. There are two things you can't do in the turkey woods: make a lot of noise and, once you get set up, move. So far, we weren't doing very well on the first count. Trying to time the coughs to the locator calls or the noisier steps up the mountain became a regular part of the game.
At the power line, the turkeys across the road were still going strong. On our side, however, there was silence. That doesn't mean there aren't turkeys there, they're just a bit harder to find. After a quick set up and settling up against the base of a tree, we soon realized that it was only the gobblers across the road that were looking to play that day.
But like many other trips into the turkey woods, it was notall for naught. I found the first trout lilies of the year almost ready tobloom and the porcupine sleeping in the tree halfway up the mountain wascertainly a highlight.
But no turkeys. Not yet. But it's a long season.
And we won't always be a mess.