“Never stop- never stop fighting until the fight is done.”
That’s the quote made famous by Kevin Costner in “The Untouchables”.
Over the years, it has become my mantra while hunting. In my opinion, a positive state of mind is one of the most important things you can bring into the field, right behind a bow, and maybe a quiver of broadhead tipped arrows.
Allow me to share a recent example:
My hunting partner Evin and I had been getting our butts kicked by the turkeys for the better part of a week. Unseasonal rains and cool weather had thrown the birds off their usual springtime habits, and the turkeys were being as quiet as a monastery full of cloistered monks. Since the usual calling tactics were not producing, we decided our best course of action was going to be an ambush.
We knew where the birds were roosting, and we knew the route they preferred to the turned over field where they liked to feed during the day. We made the two-hour drive to the property the night before, and carefully set up the blind. It was perfect. Nestled between two oak trees in the knee-high grass, it was hard to see even if you were looking for it. As comfortable as my pop up camper is, we could barely sleep that night. We just knew our luck was going to change, and visions of long beards danced in our heads.
We awoke in the dark of the predawn, and stealthily made our way to the blind. We were in the blind probably a good two hours earlier than we needed to be. We were not taking any chances. While we sipped our Redbulls in the dark, I went through my mental checklist, visualizing the shot. While I was excited, I was also calm and confident. I was prepared.
Eventually there was a hint of dawn in the sky, and the turkeys began to wake and gobble. I looked over at Evin, and by the big smile plastered across his face, I could tell he was excited as I was. It would be soon now!
At that exact moment, we heard a peculiar sound in the distance. It was a squeaking, mechanical sound, like an old-fashioned well pump, or a rusty windmill. Evin and I both looked at each other. He looked as puzzled as I was. What could it be? It was getting louder. The birds began to shock call in response to the racket. Our hunt was in danger of being ruined! I took a chance and stuck my head out the blind and could not believe what I saw. The landowner’s twelve-year-old grandson was making his way down the gravel hill on an old, rusty ten-speed bicycle. To make matters worse, the kid started hollering, “Hey, I’m not a turkey, I’m not a turkey!” Over. And over. And over.
The rambunctious youth made his way to our blind. “Are you guys hunting turkeys in there?”
“Get out of here! You have to go!” I hissed in reply.
The inquisitive child made his departure, but it was too late. A cacophony of alarm putts and birds flying away told us what we feared: Our set was blown, and the turkeys had flown to the neighboring property.
To say we were disappointed would be an understatement. So many hours, so much planning, not to mention the lost sleep, to have it all sabotaged by a curious, early rising twelve year old. It would have been easy to throw our hands in the air, and go to the local diner to lick our wounds over pancakes and hot coffee. But we didn’t. We chose to “never stop fighting until the fight is done.” We hunted hard for the rest of the morning, and in the last hour of legal shooting time, we located a lone feeding tom. I watched from a nearby hilltop as Evin made a masterful stalk on the bird, utilizing the terrain and ground cover to close the distance to thirty-five yards. Evin drew his bow, stepped out from behind an oak tree, and sent an arrow through the old tom before it even had a chance to raise its head out of the grass. Finally, we had a bird on the ground!
Once again the mantra had served us well. “Never stop- never stop fighting until the fight is done.” Keep those words in mind the next time you become frustrated, and feel like packing it in. Who knows? You just might touch an untouchable tom.