Article Overview:   Wild turkey hunters used to find and eliminate Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein?   Are they more equipped and dedicated to hunting down the elusive Terrorists?    Perhaps.   Find out.


Wednesday--May 7, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 602
 Call of the Wild Turkey Hunter--America's Secret Unused Weapon Against Terrorism
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZER0, NEW YORK, NY--Jack London has nothing over Jack Smith, a grizzled veteran of the delicate and humiliating art of wild turkey hunting.

Like Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein, a wild turkey has an uncanny ability to duck, weave, bolt, dash and disappear from enemy radar.  A blink of an eye, a twitch of the nose, a slight unnatural movement will send a wild turkey propelling out of range of a hunter's shotgun, turning the glee of potential victory into the grumpies of a growling, empty stomach.
     I spent the last few days up in Clayton, New York, a small community of 2,200 nestled on the banks of the St. Lawrence Seaway where long rows of brush and green fields hacked out by bushhogs offer feed and cover for one of the most elusive creatures on earth since Osama and Saddam took to ducking U.S. bullets, bombs and radar.

 I stayed with my friend, whom I shall call Pete for purposes of anonymity, an avid hunter and gentleman farmer who is one of the few Americans and even fewer members of the globe's 6.2 billion people who own an island.   The only other person I know who owns an island (Tetiaroa in Tahiti) is Marlon Brando, but I don't think Brando is into turkey hunting.
     The wild turkey is more than a game bird.   It was originally considered as America's national logo, but was beat out by the eagle.  Its cunning was considered its greatest quality.
     Pete took respite from civilization as it is commonly known about a decade ago when, in a search for a retreat from the madding crowd, he found the Village of Clayton waiting for him to assimilate into its culture.   Pete had one goal in life as he grew up--to become a millionaire before he was forty, and, within a couple of clicks, he achieved that goal by putting his nose to the grindstone and sticking to a central philosophy he calls:  "Keeping The Main Thing The Main Thing."
      He just never took his eye off the target, he claims, and if success has any formulation, he proposes, it is dogged determination to one singular goal before mounting another objective.   Like the war in Iraq, he says.  "America finally finished what it started, despite all the critics.
      To complement his island replete with a beautiful turn-of-the-century home he has restored on the chunk of granite thrust up from the bottom of the seaway like Poseidon's thumb, Pete also acquired a couple of hundred acres of farmland, which he has made a hunting reserve.   It sports a series of deer stands and patches of clearings that expose turkeys during the month of May, turkey hunting season, that challenge man and fowl in a battle of which can outfox the other, with man usually losing and turkey winning.
      This kind of hunting is not for the faint of heart, or the restless soul.    It's basically sniper hunting.

       The whole idea is for the hunter to become one with nature and to blend in so perfectly that all signs of being human are erased.  The hunter becomes a blade of grass, a clump of weeds, a tangle of branches.    Unless there is full assimilation with nature herself, the turkey's naked eye will find the flaw--the patch of white skin, the twitch of a finger, the movement of the gun barrel and literally takes a powder, leaving nothing for the hunter but a faint image of what could have been.
       Over the last four days most of what I heard were the sounds of turkey calls, night and day, being issues by Pete and his hunting friends in an attempt to mimic the great wild Thanksgiving birds out of roosts in trees, or to pique their attention so they stop and pick up their heads from feeding, giving the hunter a better shot.    Sometimes the call summons the curious who waddle up to see who the new neighbor is.  Such curiosity can be fatal.  But it is rare, for even my friend, Clinton, an Ojibwe Indian, raises an eyebrow over the chances of getting a wild turkey into the "killing box."   "Very hard," he said.  "Hunting turkeys is very hard."
         I watched the hunters.  I was an embedded reporter, kind of like the journalists in Iraq targeting their cameras on the action without pulling any triggers.    I witnessed all the madness and articulate, surgical preparation for the hunt--the endless hours of listening to recorded turkey calls from the wild, bracketed by expert turkey hunters providing the listener skills in using the various methods of calling the wild birds.  This included everything from small boxes they scraped to replicate the sound of a turkey, to rubbery mouth inserts that looked like an anti-conception diaphragm they blew through to emit a clucking screech that a Tom Turkey might think came from a hen, and, shot through and through with testosterone, might spread his tail and thrust his chest to check "her" out.
      Then there is the camouflage.   Hats, face veils, boots, jackets, pants, gloves, blind tents to hide in, back brush to stuff into natures' to break the silhouette--a parade of gear to erase the human being and make him or her blend into nature was strewn about the house in Clayton, reminiscent of a warrior's ware laid out on the eve of battle, ready to be donned in the dark before sunrise so any traces of civilization would be masked.
      Of course, then there were the guns and ammunition.  Special turkey loads were loaded, shells running about a dollar each, designed to maximize "killing ability" within a forty-yard range, the prime targeting for a turkey about to become dinner.
      When my friend Pete hooked up with another hunter friend, Jim, they carried walkie-talkies, linked to ear phones.  Turkeys apparently pay little head to sound, but have the eyes of an eagle.    A sound may not affect their behavior, but an eye blink out of place, ah, that's another issue.
       Then there is the immobility.   Turkey hunters get up in the dark, make their way to their hiding places well before sunrise while the birds are still roosting, settle in to either their blinds or dug in deep in the womb of  piles of brush, painted with so much camouflage gear  they become their surroundings - and then freeze still.  They sit or lie on the ground absolutely motionless, flicking their eyes left and right, scanning for the birds, cocking their ears for the sounds of the gobbles, making their own calls to invite the turkey over for a look-see.    Decoys, resembling Toms and hens are placed strategically to make it appear the area is safe.  Then the hunter waits.  And waits.  And waits, trying to become nature herself, frozen like a dead twig upon the earth in ambush of a twenty-pound Tom who might become a delicious meal, and  provide an exciting story to tell at the local coffee shop about how man outwitted a turkey.
        The experience was fascinating.
        As I observed and listened and immersed myself in the myth, lore and tactics of wild turkey hunting, I couldn't shake the idea that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were wild turkeys of a sort.
       With all the modern killing conveniences the mind could imagine--including such hunt and destroy vehicles as the Predator, an unmanned "turkey hunter" that could circle over the mouth of a cave waiting for some enemy "turkey" to stick his head out, the two great prey of American hunters continue to remain ghosts.
       It seemed to me that nature had her way of protecting those who lived closest to the earth.   Osama lived in the caves, dodging and weaving like a great strutting Tom with the instincts of the wild adding to his elusive skills.  (This assumes he is alive, but nevertheless, there are many other al-Queda using similar methods to avoid capture or being caught in U.S. crosshairs.)   Saddam Hussein may have also found some hiding place.   His labyrinth of tunnels and bunkers, like the wild turkey's escape routes, could have swallowed him as the hunter's flinch sweeps the fields clear of turkeys in the wild.
      But then I began to think.  In the U.S. there tens of thousands of turkey hunters, some with decades of experience in becoming one with the environment they are trying to ape.   They have collectively acquired millions upon millions of hours of patience, lying still in the night until the sun rises, and learning to control their heartbeats and rush of adrenaline to keep from exposing themselves as the turkeys.
      What if, I thought, the U.S. mobilized all the turkey hunters to hunt down Osama and Saddam, or whomever might be the next target?
      Here is an army of well-trained, dedicated, usually highly patriotic, apple-pie-and-American-flag citizens with absolute proven skills.  

      I'm sure with the great technology available America could create an Osama Call or a Saddam Call that could be replicated so wild turkey hunters could use them to lure the two most wanted Terrorists out of their lairs.
      They don't need any gear, so the cost to arm and equip them would be minimal.
      And, because of their patriotic bent, they would probably even pay their own way to Afghanistan or Iraq, or Syria or where ever was necessary.
      Yes, Terrorism would meet a fast, quick dead-end if it went head to head with wild turkey hunters.  


May 5--600 Days From Ground Zero

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