The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


May 8, 2014

Turkeys, coffee and sleep deprivation

Do you really think that having eight hours of sleep every night is necessary? Don’t you figure some scientist somewhere doing a study tells us this because it sounds good and maybe he is working on the side for Mattress Company? Yeah, that’s what I thought too. The people telling us this are definitely not turkey hunters.

All my brothers in camo out there know that we are in the middle of spring gobbler season, and that means little or no sleep. Your humble scribe is writing this to you from turkey camp. Sleep is almost a nonexistent commodity, and I am doing just fine. Again, I think the necessity for a lot of sleep is highly overrated. Now what was I telling you about again?....... Oh yeah, turkey camp.

Most days in turkey camp start the same way. You get up at some evil, chilling hour, and the feeling in your head is reminiscent of that time you had the flu and you took way too much cold medicine — fuzzy. You stumble through the cabin to get the remedy, the only relief known that will help your fuzz infested brain — coffee. No one knows how the Indians hunted turkeys before they had coffee. I have read about several studies on this, but the results seem to be inconclusive. They may have had a substitute for coffee, maybe some tree or root that they boiled to get a coffee like substance, kind of like the newer turkey hunters today that drink Mountain Dew.

The need for coffee during spring turkey season cannot be overemphasized. I would much rather forget the shotgun than the coffee. Most of the time I don’t need the shotgun anyway.

After stoking up on several cups of coffee that some of my buddies claim that I have made too strong (again), I run out the door after stuffing several Little Debbie Cakes and an apple in my vest (have to eat healthy, you know).

I am now driving in the predawn darkness, (only slightly above the speed limit) arguing with my buddy about where we should go and having maybe my eighth cup of coffee. I know that is not much, but it will have to do me as the guy I am with will invariably forget the thermos we filled up back at camp. We pull into the hunting spot that he wanted to go to. I argued with him because I knew we would not hear one turkey gobble at this place. I have a terrible habit of always being right about this, (it’s a gift). My friend has his shotgun, vest, all his other goodies and is gone into the darkness. I am still looking for that other glove, my shells, one certain turkey call, and the rest of the Debbie Cakes.

I now locate my buddy going up a steep incline as we must gain elevation to listen for the raucous call of the gobblers, (but we won’t hear any here, remember?) When we reach the top, I walk away from him so he can’t hear me as I gasp for breath. About the time I regain my breathing, I inhale a gnat that seems to be roughly the size of a quail. This induces only a short coughing and gagging episode, and my former buddy actually laughs out loud only once.

Now, as we stand and listen to the entire woodland world wake up, the best part of the day, I start to feel the need for more coffee. It has been roughly 20 minutes since I finished my last cup, but the fuzziness is coming back, trying to carry me away to another place, a place where I can sleep, and dream. Wait, what’s that? My former buddy is motioning to me frantically, implying that he is hearing a turkey gobbling. He is starting look kind of fuzzy around the edges. Why didn’t he bring that thermos?

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