Spring turkey hunting often involves hiking many miles, particularly if the gobblers do not cooperate. Or, if running and gunning is your style, the necessary mile can eat up a lot of shoe leather.
My wife and I were in the second mile of a three-mile hike, in the dark, which became necessary to reach our turkey hunting destination before sunup. We broke our stride when a small beam of light bounced up the logging road behind us.
"Someone else will be hunting in here today," Dian said. "That's a flashlight."
"Well that guy is in a big hurry," I said. "He's on a mountain bike and covering ground in a hurry."
A minute later the biker over took us and passed us up, headed in the direction of our honey hole. We worried that our long hike into a public hunting area might be doomed by the guy who got there first on a mountain bike.
Twenty minutes later we came to a fork in the sparsely graveled road. Fortunately, the biker went to the right. We were headed left into steeper terrain.
"We were lucky he went right," Dian said.
"Yeah, we could have lost our spot even though we started very early. That young man is smart," I replied.
Had the biker taken our turn in the road, he would have arrived well ahead of us. He would have had to park his bike for the climb up a steep hill, but he would have been well ahead of us.
I never saw the biker again, but every time I hiked into a public hunting area which had a network of gravel or logging roads, I thought about the advantages of riding a mountain bike.
I have always loved to walk and still do. I have never purchased an ATV or similar vehicle. I stubbornly clung to my ideology that walking is healthy and that hunting on foot is the way that it should be done.
I turned 64 in 2013 and faced some long hikes for the fall turkey hunting season. Still in relatively good shape, I struggled with the idea of buying a bike. I began scouting a month before the season opener. Right off the bat I did not find turkeys in their usual haunts. I needed to cove a lot more ground and do it quickly.
I bought a mountain bike. The area I hunted had a long, sloping hill for the first mile. I covered the three miles into the heart of the area in a matter of minutes. When I arrived at a steep hill, I simply chained my bike to a tree and continued my scouting trip on foot.
My scouting trips became a daily affair. I covered 8 to 10 miles a day, well over twice what I covered on foot. Not only did I scout more area, I had a wonderful time riding my new found means of transportation.