The Wild Life #3
They say that in life the only things for certain are death, and taxes. But here in Oregon, every April 15, there are three certainties: death, taxes, and turkeys. You know for certain that someone, or several someone’s, are going to die in this state today, that those of us who don’t die, had better have our taxes done, and spring turkey season opens. I never used to worry about the first two. I have always been ten feet tall, and bullet proof, and I always made sure I had my taxes filed—albeit at the last minute (much to my wife’s ongoing chagrin)—because my philosophy is why give these government wastrels one more minute of access to your money than you legally have to? But what about the third certainty, spring turkey season? No, I’ve never had to worry about that one, either, because those of us lucky enough to live here in Southern Oregon live in Turkey Heaven. The big brown birds are not just abundant here, they have proliferated to almost pest-like status, and they are everywhere. And when I say everywhere, I mean everywhere. They are here in town in droves. You see them crossing the streets, scratching up people’s lawns, looking for worms, roosting on the eaves of luxury homes, and sometimes landing on parked cars where they can wreak havoc on a paint job in seconds with their Edward ScissorHands like claws. So, no, I’ve never worried about not going turkey hunting, either. In fact, if it was legal to shoot in our city limits I could literally hunt from my own backyard. But a few years ago I found an awesome place in the oak woods outside of Gold Hill, OR on BLM land 14 miles from my house, a place I call “Turkey Nirvana” and this is where I hunt. One year ago today, I was in those oak woods at 5:55 a.m. well before daylight with my decoys all set up, and my green Ghillie suit clad back leaning against a rough barked oak tree, softly stroking my H.S. Strut “‘Old Mama Hen” box call and listening to a big Tom gobbler up on the hill above me answering back with true romantic devotion. What a difference a year can make. Today, April 15, 2015, I am now almost five weeks out from a near-death heart attack experience, and quadruple bypass surgery last month. I did manage to get our taxes in the mail yesterday, but I was not in those woods at daybreak this morning. Instead, I was sitting in a recliner in my living room, watching the sun come up over the mountains as I took my morning pills—Imvastatin, Metoprolo, Docusate, Clopidogrel, Lisinopril, a baby aspirin, and the always welcome pain crushing Hydrocodone 325 MG. X2—washing them all down with a glass of high potassium, sodium free, orange juice. My new heart literally aches this morning, and not just from the titanium steel framework beneath my surgery scar they wired in place to keep my chest in one piece while it heals back together. My heart aches, because it is turkey season, dammit, and for the first time in my life, I can’t go. I have cheated death this April 15, and I paid my taxes in full to the government ghouls yesterday. But I still can’t go turkey hunting. I promised the Hospital that I wouldn’t go hunting, so they would discharge me, and I have promised my doctors, and my wife, that I will stay discharged. So I will sit in my recliner today, popping my pills when it’s time, staring at my Remington 870 turkey gun behind the glass doors of my gun case, and reminiscing with a few pictures from opening day last year. I guess there is always next turkey season. And besides, on this April 15 purposefully defying a couple of of life’s “certainties” doesn’t seem all that bad. Especially that one about dying.