It’s important to get the marching order right
THE OTHER DAY I went for a walk in a local woodlot when a jake turkey caught my attention by trotting across a five-yard-wide opening. Just as his ink black body and bobbing white head crossed my line of sight another turkey broke cover and followed. Then came one more, another, and finally the last.
In total, five jakes had crossed within easy gun range.
This type of event is a longstanding tradition for me every spring prior to the turkey season. It is so common I have come to think of it as the March of the Teaser Birds and I celebrate it each year by imagining what would have happened if it was turkey season.
I’m not delusional however. I know this is probably the turkeys’ way of making me feel worse because it generally happens on property I don’t have hunting access to.
Nevertheless the experience was not without value. There is always something to be learned from watching nature.
In this case, I learned a thing or two about the laws of order.
Let me explain. Imagine this was hunting season and I was watching that opening with gun in hand.
For the first bird, things could have gone one of two ways. He could have either caused me to send out a hurried shot, which are often the best because instinct takes over, or he might have slipped by without being shot at all.
The second bird would have definitely been at greater risk because by the time he stepped into view I would have stopped fumbling with my shotgun, taken it off safety and it would have been already pointing in its general direction.
The third bird would have been in the worst position for two reasons. First, I would have been totally ready for it. Second, after snapping off one or two hurried shots and missing both preceding birds, I would have finally settled down for my third and final shot. This time I would have remembered to take my time and lead it.
And now we come to bird number four, the smartest of them all. This is a bird that really thought things through. He probably knew that most turkey guns only hold three shells at most. With this in mind, he most likely reasoned that my gun would be empty by the time he, the fourth bird, left cover. And though the same thing applies for bird five, bird four also had the good sense to realize that it is never smart to be the last bird in a line, since they are the ones a trailing predator catches first.
If you think there is not much of a lesson here, it’s only because you are not applying these principles to everyday life.
For instance, if there is a new truck stop on the highway, it’s probably not good to be first one who tries “The Special.” The second person might not do too well either, especially if he or she was the guest of the first person. The third person might do better by simply avoiding “The Special,” especially if he or she had heard of the fate of the first two. The fourth person would certainly just be ordering a coffee and avoiding any issues altogether, since, by the time he got there, word would have gotten out to steer clear of “The Special.” And, OK, the fifth person would not even go there but might also get rear-ended as he’s changing his mind on the highway exit.
As you can see, there is a lot you can learn by watching turkeys. Last year I learned you should never answer strange calls.
A mix of gravel roads, trails and hills has made the Cycle Waterloo event, one of the first of the season, a popular choice from cyclists well beyond the borders of Waterloo Region.