...at least I saw a lot of stuff

Remember the old saying "If it wasn't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all"? That was coined to describe the average Vance turkey season.

I won't say that I have bad luck turkey hunting, but consider this: in the past three seasons other hunters have shot more birds that I was calling than I have.

My shotgun shells have tarnish on them that brass cleaner couldn't touch. It is the tarnish of utter defeat. You can't swab that off with chemicals. It goes right to the soul of those No. 6 turkey loads. They are ashamed to be seen with me.

There is no logical reason I don't kill turkeys, other than a curse laid on an Irish ancestor in the prehistoric days. I am not superstitious-knock on wood-but I won't discount the possibility that some Hibernian witch got ticked off at my grandfather 100 times removed and I suffer the results.

St. Louisan T.S. Eliot once wrote, "Let me count the days..." So here they are:

Four days of hunting doesn't seem like a long time if you are the featured guest at a hanging or trying to scrape together enough money to pay your taxes, but in the turkey woods it's a lifetime.

First day: High hopes, that eternal optimism that leads me to believe that I will drop a gobbler slightly larger than a Cape buffalo five minutes after sunrise.

I bound from bed at 4 a.m., two hours before first light. This gives me time to throw on my clothing, drive gravel roads like James Bond running from bad guys, jog 1.5 miles over uneven ground through sprout thickets laced with thorns so I can find a lumpy spot under a cedar tree that leaks itchy needles down my neck and then wait in the dark for more than an hour.

I know that a gobbler is roosted 60 yards from my clever hide. This gobbler will come to my call like Teddy Roosevelt going up San Juan Hill, and I'll have to shoot in self defense.

I am determined to stay in the woods until the last tick of the clock. I will outwait them. I have an orange and a pocketful of breakfast bars that taste (as I try one) like something rescued from the dog's dish. But they stop the stomach rumbling that threatens to become louder than my plaintive love starved hen calls.

My love-starved hen is becoming increasingly petulant as