Turkey Hunting Haiku
by Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, April 17, 2010.)
If winter is the season of death, spring is the season of life.
Haiku are simple enough for me.
Myriad birds return from warmer climates. Robins, the traditional herald of spring, hop across the yard and cock their heads before pulling stubborn earthworms from the recently frozen sod.
We’ve heard the giant Vs of Canada geese with their northbound honking. While looking for them you might notice turkey vultures scouting the snowless landscape for a hearty meal of winterkill.
The spring peepers chirp endlessly from ponds, puddles and bogs. Those wetlands, dead just weeks ago, release turtles and frogs that somehow survived a long winter mud nap.
Some animals perished through the winter. Others persisted and are now more visible. They’ve abandoned the sheltered spots where they hunkered down to battle the harsh and heartless weather. Gobblers strut for hens. Deer look for safe places to drop their fawns.
As spring advances I’m amazed at the endless variations of green on the hills, a palette more impressive to me than fall’s brilliance. Rain intensifies the colors and liberates the smells while it pulls from the soil essential nutrition for every living thing.
The transformation from winter to spring is dramatic. We’re now living on a different planet. If spring failed to come just once, life as we know it would end.
But it didn’t end. Our northern hemisphere has roared to life. God is offering us another promise. He warms the earth, lifting spirits once more and bringing us another season of poetry.
I’m not much of a poet. If I’m going to read poetry I need poetry I can understand – simple verses, words with clear meanings, an ending that doesn’t make me say “Huh?”
Every once in a while I run across a haiku poem. Haiku are simple enough for me.
Haiku is a Japanese poetic style – brief, and easily expressed in a single breath. I can grasp the mechanics with ease – three lines with up to 17 syllables, often in a 5-7-5 format. The haiku is economical in its use of words to paint a picture without labored explanation. As poetry often does, it focuses on showing, rather than telling.
There aren’t many rules for haiku, and many haiku poets seem to break the few rules they have. Since haiku typically uses a “season word,” I thought it would be a perfect topic for spring. And what does a hunter think of in spring? What else? We’re on the cusp of turkey season.
So, I’ll take a shot at writing my own turkey hunting haiku. It offers nearly limitless concepts to tinker with: feathers, spurs, beards, colors, calls, blood, sounds, smells, tracks, gender, life, death, and on and on.
Here’s one that describes the classic turkey hunt, successful right after morning flydown:
Sunrise gobble sound
Trees waken raining turkeys
Gun speaks, gobbler silent.
You can see the strutting gobbler in this haiku:
Beard dragging puff ball
Every feather stands erect
White crown redneck fowl.
Here’s a haiku about scouting for turkeys:
Heading to the field
Three toes on a muddy trail
I found a strut zone.
Ever wonder about the gobbler’s point of view? You can stop wondering:
Stubborn hen won’t move
I’ll go to her, just this once
Boom. Life is over.
What’s the point of this? Not much more than fun. My haiku might not be good, but why not have fun while we wait for turkey season? It wouldn’t hurt to try your own turkey hunting haiku.