by Bobby Parks
Recently, I read a post on a forum that involved the cost per pound of a wild turkey compared to a store bought one. In this case, a friend of one of our fellow turkey hunters could not begin to understand the rationale of putting so much effort and expense just to put a turkey on the table. Why would you incur such a cost when you could just walk in the store and buy one for $1.59 a pound? I’m sure in his and others minds we turkey hunters must be crazy and while that may be true, I actually feel my $100 a pound bird is one of the best deals I get each year and it’s easily justified.
First of all, grocery shopping and hunting are not quite in the same category and don’t carry the same level of excitement or require the same gear. Hobbies, which can include golf, boating, skiing, stamp collecting, needlepoint, fishing, hunting or whatever it may be, come with a price tag.
Even among hunters, hunting has different meanings to different people and we have our own reasons, motivations, goals, and aspects that allow us to enjoy the sport. Although I like almost all wild game, the meat aspect is not the reason I love to hunt, but more of a fringe benefit.
For me, it’s about spending time in the outdoors, creating lifetime memories with family and friends, and knowing what it’s like to see and hear the woods come to life in the mornings. It's about hearing the coyotes sounding off, the sound of wood ducks whistling through the air, listening to screech owls that sound possessed, and wondering if the whippoorwills will shut down before the gobbling starts. It’s hearing gobblers gobbling and hens tree talking on the limb and enjoying the challenges that turkey hunting, or any hunting, brings.
It’s a chance to meet and make new friends and creates lifetime bonds with what are, for the most part, down-to-earth people that have an appreciation for the simple things in life including the outdoors and conservation. Hunting, in many ways, brings people from all different walks and backgrounds together in a way that not many other "hobbies" do.
It’s about having trouble controlling your breathing and shaking when you've got a walnut-size-brain bird that puts your slightly larger one to the test and wins most of the bouts that make you feel childish. It’s about watching this happen to others, especially those new to the sport, experience the same. And, it’s about experiencing the excitement, adrenalin, and extreme satisfaction when it all comes together after much anticipation and failed efforts.
We as hunters and outdoors people understand this, but those outside this circle may sometimes have difficulty comprehending. For many of us it’s not about the meat or the cost per pound. The real value turkey hunting brings is priceless.
My turkey meat may run about a $159.00 a pound for all I know. But I guarantee that when I'm sitting at the table or frying it up in camp with friends remembering the details that brought him to the table, it’s worth every penny.
Bobby Parks is a Mossy Oak ProStaff member.