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Getting up with the sun is fun

May 01, 2010 at 07:42 PM


Out in the wild country, watching the eastern sky get bright and seeing the sun break the horizon is money in the bank. For turkey hunters like me who are unburdened with high expectations, sunrise is the best part of being there.

George Washington Carver, the famous botanist, said, “Nothing is more beautiful than the woods before sunrise.”

He was right. Watching the wild country wake up is well worth the effort, even if you have to slug down a cup or two of road-tar coffee to do it.

Early birds really do get the worm. Rooster pheasants cackle like their cousins in the barnyard. The woodpeckers start hammering away. Does and spotted fawns are on their way back to the bedding areas. Squirrels wake up full of chatter. Rabbits sneak out and try to grab some breakfast before it warms up enough for Mr. Hawk to start riding the thermals.

I don’t know when the bugs wake up. I suspect that ticks, mosquitoes and buffalo gnats work around the clock. Dark or light, day or night, they are always out there trying to make a living.

Tom turkeys and hens alike wake up with the sun and flap down off the roost. Experienced and successful turkey hunters who do their homework know where those roosts are. Before dawn, they put out their decoys and set up as close as they can. I tend to set up where there’s an unobstructed view of the eastern skyline, and then hope for the best.

Behavioral studies show that most sleep-deprived Americans stumble out of bed one hour before they need to leave for work. It is doubtful the study included teenagers or college students. My observation of both species indicates that they hit the floor half-asleep five minutes before they need to be out the door, and leave a trail of their belongings behind them. Perhaps to guide them back home like Hansel and Gretel.

I didn’t always appreciate the first red streaks of dawn like I do now. When Dad summoned me from the foot of the stairs while it was still dark and told me I was missing the best part of the day, I was fully aware that the best part of my day was sometime later, when the cows were already milked and the livestock were already fed.

It was impossible to get in touch with my inner George Washington Carver while teetering on a one-legged stool, trying to get Gertrude the Guernsey to get through just one morning without dipping a hind leg in the milk bucket. Back then, I couldn’t imagine rolling out of a warm bed just to watch the sun come up. Times change.

Rob Sagendorph, editor of the Farmer’s Almanac, wrote, “Climb up on some hill at sunrise. Everybody needs perspective once in a while. You’ll find it there.”

Take that advice, and you will see that he was right.

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