John's Journal...

How to Survive Turkey Season

No Alcohol, More Sleep, Regular Eye Checks and Body Conditioning

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Behold the turkey hunter. Up before first light, coffee in hand and dressed in full camo, he approaches the new day ready to attempt to outsmart one of God's noblest creations. At least, that's how we like to think. But the rest of the world sees the turkey hunter as short-tempered, slow walking, and grumpy with a runny nose and a sore throat who constantClick to enlargely complains about what he has to endure to hunt gobblers and how he's so tired. Most of us have learned we may take gobblers, but the birds will beat us up in the process. We went to the medical community to learn howto survive turkey season. Dr. Robert Sheppard of Carrollton, Alabama – an avid turkey hunter and cardiologist – has researched why gobbler-chasers feel so beaten up during turkey season.

What Does the Doctor Do?   
From his Carrollton home, Sheppard can turkey hunt just outside his back door. He gets so excited about and intent on hunting gobblers that he sometimes lacks proper sleep. To perform effectively at work, he has developed a system to overcome this lack of sleep. "When I come in from turkey hunting, I go into my attic, which has no windows, no phone and an air conditioner," Sheppard explained. "I force myself to sleep for two to three hours before going to work. If I can't take that two- or three-hour nap, I go to bed earlier than normal."

How to Really Do It to Yourself:    
If you really want to find out how bad turkey hunting can make you feClick to enlargeel, drink alcohol the night before hunting. "When you add alcohol to another psychomotor dysfunction – like sleep deprivation – you worsen the effects, whether you drank the night before or right after hunting," Sheppard emphasizes.

How Important Is Conditioning:    
No serious athlete will run a marathon without training for many weeks. However, many hunters never Click to enlargetake a walk longer than a quarter of a mile before turkey season starts. If you want to prevent sore muscles, start a conditioning program early. The more stress you put on your musculoskeletal system prior to turkey season, the better you will perform during the season.     Most turkey hunters fail to train with the equipment they plan to use in the field. Don't wear tennis shoes and light exercise clothing when you train. Instead work in your heavy boots and vest (filled with gear), and carry your gun. Walk through rugged terrain, not on a manicured track. Before you begin any type of training program, get a complete medical checkup.

Why You Can't See the Gobbler:    
For many years, I came in from turkey hunting with a headache that would have put the Biblical strongman Samson on the ground. Then one day, I had my eyes checked. After I purchased the correct glasses for me, my turkey-hunting headaches disappeared. "When you can't see correctly, the eyestrain often creates headaches,” the late Dr. F. J. Day, a developmental optometrist in Birmingham, Alabama, said. "And when you can't see properly, you won't spot gobblers." I've never understood why a turkey hunter will spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on equipment and land leases but won't pay for an eye exam, which will help a hunter see and bag more turkeys.

Tomorrow: Why a Turkey-Hunting Camp Is a Foreign Environment  

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Survive Turkey Season "

Day 1: Get Plenty of Sleep, Lower Your Resistance and Monitor Your Heart
Day 2: Dealing with Social Problems, Water and Vitamins and Lyme Disease
Day 3: No Alcohol, More Sleep, Regular Eye Checks and Body Conditioning
Day 4: Why a Turkey-Hunting Camp Is a Foreign Environment  
Day 5: Remedies and Buddies


Entry 452, Day 3