The Art of Listening: A Lesson Learned from Turkey Hunting


I think I officially became a Tennessean last Saturday: I went hunting for the first time. My buddy took me turkey hunting, and while we didn’t actually shoot any turkeys (or see any turkeys for that matter), I was wearing camouflage, had my Browning BPS 12-guage shotgun in hand, and was sitting quietly up against a tree for almost two hours. In my book, that counts as hunting. For those of you who know me, you know I’m an avid indoors-man, so this was a BIG step for me and tapping into my inner-man’s-man.

And through it all, I learned a valuable lesson about listening.

I woke up at 4:30 AM (a time I typically only see on race day), pushed “start” on the coffee, and got dressed for my big adventure. It was obviously still dark, but we had to be in the woods before the sun came up. On a side note, I learned there is a difference between “civil” dawn and actual dawn, but don’t ask me to intelligently explain it. Just google it–it’ll be easier and way more accurate than any explanation I’d give.

When I met my friend at his house, he gave me some extra camouflage gear to put on, and we headed to his father-in-law’s land. Upon arriving at the land, things were quiet, very peaceful actually. My friend and I maintained a low profile as we loaded our shotguns and trekked about 100 yards to where we would place the turkey decoys and wait for our dinner to come marching down the hill to us.

We got settled in about 5:20 and waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

My friend began the turkey-calling process. He’d make the hen turkey call (the sound the female turkeys make when luring their male companions), and we’d wait to hear the tom respond. Sure enough, we’d call to him, and he would respond. The tom’s response call back to us was the more traditional “gobble” sound that you think of when thinking about turkey sounds. Which I’m sure you do all the time, right?

Sitting there with nothing but the sounds of nature on all sides, it hit me: Are we truly listening to what’s around us? To the signals we’re being given? This is an important question to ask of any situation, but of course I immediately thought about the body and the pain signals it gives. Yes…despite the fact that it was 5:30 AM on a Saturday, I still couldn’t flip the work switch “off.”

Pain is a signal, a “calling out” from your body. Are you listening? Are you interpreting its meaning? Or are you ignoring the signal completely? When you hurt, it’s crucial to remember that your body is simply sending you a signal. Just like the hen turkey, your body is saying, Hey! Listen to me! I’m trying to get your attention! 

Yet too often and too quickly, many of us ignore the signal. We jump to masking agents like pills, shots and braces–things that turn the signal off completely. We ignore what our body is telling us. We ignore the call to action–just like the toms we heard…yet never saw. They didn’t respond to our call. They ignored us and turned away from the signal.

Don’t turn away from the signal. Instead, you need to respond accordingly: you need to listen to the signal.

QUESTION: Are you truly listening to your body’s signals?