Tale of an EX-Hunter
I was at the gym this morning. Doing my usual workout, I was on a recumbent bike doing my normal 20 minutes at varying speeds and intensity. In front of me - between me and the windows - is a row of treadmills. Pacing on one of them was James. James is about my age and so was taking it easy but he was moving along.
I always change to workout clothes, but as with many people at the gym, he was wearing his street clothes and had on a yellowish orange tee shirt with a slogan on the back that read "Wild Turkey Association".
When he got done on the treadmill and turned towards me, I said, "James, I'm wondering whether that tee shirt is a statement about nature or an ad for whiskey."
He leaned up against a stair climber that was next to my bike. "Well," he said and grinned, "I'm not sure which. One of the kids gave it to me. I asked him which it was and he told me it could be whatever. So, I just wear it."
He stood there a minute and looked at me. "I've hunted turkeys" he continued. "Last time I was out and shot one, I almost didn't. I was looking at him and the sun was shining and his feathers were fanned out. Just the way the sun glinted through them and shined on them. It was beautiful. Then I shot him.
"I went over to where he was. It was about 50 yards from where I'd been quietly waiting. He was just laying there - dead."
He stopped talking for a minute. Then he continued: "I'd probably killed 5 or 6 turkeys all told. And, as I stood there looking at that one, I thought, why'd I do that? I haven't been out turkey hunting since then."
James straightened up and looked out the window and then back at me. He just stood there for a minute and I finally said "I've never hunted. I've got a couple sons that hunt deer but I've never been out."
He leaned back up against the stair climber. "I hunted deer for a lot of years," he said. "I was out really early a few years back. It was cold and frosty. I sat there for quite a while. I had some candy bars with me and ate them. Finally this big buck showed. He raised his head and looked around. He was a really big, majestic kind of animal.
"I took aim and got a shot off and he was hit and started running. I went over to where he'd been standing. Found the brush all knocked down and a trail led off the way he'd run. I followed the trail and found him. He was laying there, kicking his legs and twisting. Trying to get up, it looked like.
"Just like with the turkey I was talking about, I felt sort of sick and thought what the devil am I doing this for.
"That's the last time I've been hunting."
He sort of smiled at me and shuffled off towards the dressing room. I kept on pumping away on the bicycle.