This month I am sharing some of my thoughts and experiences on what it is really like to be a hunting guide. I have guided off and on for big and small game in three different states during the last 25 years, and I have had many memories and experiences as a result. There is plenty of stress that goes with guiding hunters, and there are plenty of rascals that you end up spending time with, but there are also instances of sheer wonder that you get to share with people who really appreciate special moments in nature.
One year while guiding turkeys in eastern Washington State, I took a young man in the military that was stationed somewhere in the western part of the state. Since he was young and in good shape, we took off for one of my favorite turkey spots, Satan’s Mountain. It’s not on any map, trust me. I gave it that name after climbing it one day in pursuit of Merriams turkeys. It is a long hike straight uphill but worth it as most birds are never hunted up there.
We made it to the top just before first light. I sat us up on a bench and I began the gentle clucks of a hen turkey waking up in a tree. I got a couple gobbles in return and decided to stay quiet because I knew that those toms knew where the calls were coming from.
Like a script, here came a couple of trophy birds. Unfortunately for the hunter, the birds came in a straight line right into our laps. I mean literally in our laps. A three-year old trophy gobbler stepped over one of my knees and planted a foot between my spread out legs as I sat against a tree. He was around 16 inches from my face which was covered in a mesh face mask. The nice gobbler had brought a buddy with him which was standing next to my foot. The bird in my lap noticed my eyes blinking though my mask and kept staring at my eye trying to catch me moving. I had to blink, so with each blink, the gobbler would let out a “putt.”
We had no chance at shooting these turkeys unless the hunter shot a part of my body off. The moment was tense, but it was also amazing and we both just sat there hoping that it would never end. I was mentally begging the toms to stay put and let us watch them at point blank range forever, but it was only natural for them to eventually wander off after realizing something was not kosher. After they did walk off without offering a shot, the hunter and I just sat there soaking it all in. It was a great experience and it is a great memory. Sometimes hunting with strangers is awesome.