WHILE THIS ISSUE was being pulled together, I skipped out for a morning to go turkey hunting with my buddy Josh Dahlke, the most fanatical gobbler chaser I know. I wouldn’t call him the best turkey hunter in the country, and he’s not the most accomplished either. But Josh cares more about turkeys and turkey hunting than just about anything else in his life.
Plenty of folks consider themselves serious turkey hunters, but after a few days of hard hunting—waking up before 3 a.m. and then staying out till dark to roost birds—those same hunters pray to punch their tag just so the hunt can be over. Josh, on the other hand, is eager to wake up well before dawn almost every day of his season, which he stretches across multiple states from early March until May 31. If he doesn’t have a tag, he takes others hunting for birds he’s scouted.
When we heard our first gobble of the morning, Josh’s eyes lit up with electricity, and his posture and demeanor changed. In an instant, the world had meaning. I make sure to go turkey hunting with Josh at least a few days every spring because seeing his passion and dedication reminds me of all the reasons that I love turkeys too. It’s good to stand close to the fire every now and then.
This issue is dedicated to outdoorsmen and -women like Josh: people who care fiercely about the game they hunt, the fish they catch, and the wild landscapes where it all happens. This issue is also dedicated to readers who have stuck with Outdoor Life through all its changes. For diehards like you, we are launching OutdoorLife+, which will serve as a home for all our best narrative writing, feature photography, and investigative reporting.
We’re starting with weekly feature stories that will publish to the OutdoorLife.com homepage—no need to launch a separate app or go through a complicated log-in process. Also, OutdoorLife+ stories will be ad-light (meaning no pesky pop-up ads) and free for now, so see how you like it. As we get into the heart of hunting season, we’ll add weekly columns from OL’s top writers, plus the best adventure stories from our archives.
On that morning turkey hunt with Josh, it wasn’t long before we were set up on a gobbler. The tom sounded off every time our other hunting buddy, Jesse, called to him, but he stayed high up on the ridge above the field we were hunting. So we waited anxiously, catching glimpses of him strutting back and forth in the timber above.
Finally, some hens flew down into our field and picked at bugs near our decoys. This was more than the gobbler could take, and he slowly made his way into the field.
“What a sight,” Josh whispered. “If he comes into range, you’re shooting. I’ve got more time.”
And sure enough, that old gobbler closed the distance. I killed him and then graciously shook hands with Josh and Jesse. Back at the truck, we were packing up and getting ready to head to our jobs, check emails, call into meetings, and fulfill all the other responsibilities that modern life brings, when—
“Hold on, I just heard a gobble,” I said.
We all froze. A moment later, we heard him again, somewhere back in the timber.
“Are you going after him?” I asked.
“Dude, who are you talking to?” Josh replied. And with that, he grabbed his shotgun and was gone.
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