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.
7, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 602
Call of the Wild Turkey
Hunter--America's Secret Unused Weapon Against Terrorism
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
5--600 Days From Ground Zero
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