5 stages of turkey hunting grief

Still tripping over turkey hunting gear? Calendar still reading May? The hunter in your life may be struggling letting go of the spring 2018 turkey season. It’s called turkey grief, and it affects all of us.

Turkey grief creeps upon many each year. For some hunters, it will be nearly a full year before they can get back into the woods. For others, fall season seems a lifetime away.

Whether turkey season 2018 was stellar with tags filled and meat in the freezer, or a piping-hot bowl of tag soup was served, no hunter is immune to these five stages of turkey grief.

Identifying Symptoms

If you see the following conditions in your spouse, friend or significant other, don’t be alarmed. Just be extra kind as they will work through their grief, albeit slowly for some. The NWTF’s Turkey Call TV or hunting videos on the NWTF’s Facebook page may cure some symptoms, but every hunter reacts differently to the loss of turkey hunting season. If you notice an adverse change in mood or behavior, have them lie down until the negative feeling passes.

Eastern Indignation

Your hunter may be suffering from a bit of denial if they are still bumbling around the house before the sun comes up, shucking on camo. You may even hear a “chirp” from a diaphragm or box call as they check their vest pockets. They are still not convinced the season is over. They may sit on the front porch, fully clad in their Mossy Oak Obsession gear reading the latest issue of Turkey Country trying to make sense of what to do now.

Illusions of (Rio) Grandeur

As they move through the stages of turkey grief, you may hear your hunter bargaining with an imaginary friend about how next year they will find more days to hunt. You may also hear them reliving their failed attempts at luring in that big tom. Expressions such as, “If only I hadn’t purred when I should have yelped!” are common and should not be alarming. For some, the process of realization takes time.

Merriam’s Mourning

As time marches on, you may notice your hunter is not actively participating in your conversations. He or she may seem distant. There may even be a few tears shed as they break through their denial of the season gone. At this stage, brokering with fictional characters for one more turkey hunting trip is a thing of the past. They’ve moved past this and now realize the season is truly over. Some extra love here and an invitation to get out of the house may be just what Dr. Tom would order.

Osceola Obsession

Time heals all wounds. Your hunter will appear a little livelier during most activities and may even begin to talk about what a great or not-so-great season they had. When you hear them making plans for next season, you know they’ve made it through the darkest days. It wouldn’t hurt to remind them that Florida has an archery season on gobblers beginning in late July, or that springtime gobbling returns in earnest around mid-March. 

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