South Dakota Turkey Hunt, Day 1

Day 1, 9:20 a.m.

It never takes me too long to pack for a hunt. Being the creature of life's delicate balance that I am, luck bats lead-off when I'm packing for a trip.

There's the worn-down, sweat-stained lid cover that I've donned for almost three years—the hat to end all hats. I never really go anywhere without it. They don't let me wear the quasi-vintage Baltimore Orioles fitted cap in the office but it's always waiting for me when I hit the front seat of my truck. It speaks to the many wild voyages life has taken me on, and I'll wear it until I break down, or it does. We'll see which happens first.

Not to be outdone is my Buck knife—a 110 Folding Hunter with the 3 3/4" bladethat I've plunged into the guts of every animal I've ever taken. Its nail notch lockback design is unflinching despite being perpetually clogged with hair and dried blood, and its black leather sheath has faded to a grey tint. I was taught at an early age to keep my cutter as sharp as possible, and so it is as I pack it away this time.

On this occasion my lucky items are coming along as I travel from Washington D.C. to Belvidere, S.D., in search of the first two Merriam's turkeys of my life.

This three-day affair will see some 15 or so hunters come through our camp, and we're hoping to fill every tag. Our hunting party will be guests of the "Sicangu Lakota Oyate" or Burnt Thigh People on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, a million acre tract of land in the heart of the Great Sioux Nation in south-central South Dakota.

Our Mossberg 500 12-gauge turkey slayers will be equipped with the new Lightning Pump Action Adjustable Trigger System, and loaded with Federal Premium Mag Shok Heavyweight turkey loads—a lethal combo.

As I board my flight out of Dulles International Airport this morning, I can only hope that after all is said and done I'll have filled my tags, tipped my lucky cap and introduced my knife to its first two Merriam's gobblers. Stay tuned.

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