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Hunting is like Christmas: Anticipation!

Wild turkeys are great hunting - with a camera. (Steve Maanum / For the Enterprise)

There's no way around it, I'm a hunter through and through. Dad began taking me with when I was seven years old and one year later, after I shot my first ducks and pheasants I was hooked. I just couldn't get enough of the outdoors. I hunted with my shotgun, my bow, and eventually with my camera.

Fifty years later I'm still doing the same thing, although the order is reversed. Now I hunt first and foremost with my camera, then my bow, and finally with my shotgun or rifle.

Definitely some things have changed over the years. I now view hunting similar to the way I viewed Christmas as a kid. Do you remember the excitement that grew with each day leading up to the time the presents would be opened? Do you remember wondering if you were going to get that special item you had been asking (or begging) for?

Do you remember searching under beds, in closets, and throughout the rest of the house trying to discover where your parents hid the gifts that weren't under the tree yet and then asking yourself why they had to hide them in the first place? Didn't they trust you?

It was the anticipation, the not knowing, the unsatisfied wondering about what was in that box with the unusual shape. Once the time finally came to pass out the gifts, you could hardly wait and then . . . it was all over.

Hunting is a lot like that. If you have ever hunted or been around hunters, you understand what I'm talking about. The first hints of excitement accompany the initial stages of the planning. The excitement grows steadily as the actual day of the hunt approaches. It's the anticipation, the not knowing, the unsatisfied wondering if that buck will come by, or that flock of mallards will drop into your decoys, or that grouse that flushed will give you an opening for a shot. The moment finally presents itself, you squeeze the trigger, and then . . . it's all over.

I have never hunted turkeys with a gun or a bow. I know I would enjoy the adventure, but I'm not sure it could surpass the experience I had recently while photographing these giants.

The planning, the packing of equipment, the camouflage clothing, and the early morning hours had become second nature for me through all the years and preparing for a camera hunt was no different. I arrived at my destination way before dawn and as I sat in the April darkness, a chill ran down my spine - partly because of the temperature and partly because of the anticipation, the not knowing, and the unsatisfied wondering if my target would show up and then, if it did, would it offer an unobstructed shot.

I heard the rustling of leaves as something was coming in my direction. As the moment finally presented itself, I aimed, took a deep breath, and squeezed the shutter release.