Jul 10, 2014
By: Tony Blando
A few weeks ago I was working in Wisconsin and took a day off to turkey hunt with my dad. We each harvested a gobbler, but I won't write much about that. OK, that was kind of a tease, so I’ll share the story of my hunt. It was probably the most uneventful tag I’ve ever filled, so this won’t take long. The bird never gobbled, and I had no idea he was there until approximately two seconds before I fired. The complete story goes like this: I saw him. I shot him. He died.
On the other hand, my dad's story is amazing, but is one I will save for the spring 2015 issue.
One unique thing about my hunt was that it was the first time I harvested anything from the confines of a portable, enclosed blind. The other unique twist is that I was actually writing this column when I first saw the bird. Even though I had no idea what I was going to write about for this issue, I brought my iPad along just in case I was inspired. And I was.
I was sitting in the blind feeling claustrophobic and wondering about all the things I was missing on the other side of the fabric. I had two small windows open so I could at least maintain eyes on my decoy and, based on some gobbles I heard earlier, the area I figured a gobbler looking for love would approach. The rest of the blind was buttoned up tight. It was dark, it was hot, and all my senses were stymied by the lack of outdoors stimulation.
Now many of you are probably thinking, "Hey, Tony, there's a bunch of windows and doors on those blinds. Quit whining and open some up." My reply would be, "Hey, pal, I thought of that already."
That is the dilemma. I was taught to keep the blind as dark as possible and to take great care not to be silhouetted. Opening up more windows violates both of those principles and carries a certain level of risk. True, I'd be able to see much more and my senses would certainly be heightened, but the turkeys I'm waiting to ambush would have a much better chance of sensing me before I sensed them.
So do I stay in my dark little cocoon with a very myopic view of my surroundings? This is certainly the least risky course of action. Or do I open up more windows, expand my own field of vision, and take a chance of the critters I'm pursuing seeing me for what I really am?
I witness this same dilemma regularly in Washington, where I spend my weeks working. Let me say up front that there are many honorable men and women serving in Congress. Fortunately, I work for one. However — and I know you may find this difficult to believe — some of our elected and appointed officials are sensory deprived by their own self-erected blinds. Their field of vision is generally myopic, and they dare not open more windows for fear of voters seeing them for who they really are.
It’s easy to take potshots at others, and since I work on Capitol Hill, politicians are the easiest and most plentiful targets. But as the Gospel of Matthew says, I probably should "take the plank out of my own eye before attempting to remove the speck out of another's." This is valid wisdom, since I really don’t have to look far to find someone who, at times, hunkers down in his own invisible blind. Someone who opens up only a few small windows to see out and allows only a few close friends and family to see in.
I only have to look in the mirror to see that guy.
When I graduated from high school, my parents gave me a Bible and a framed poem called “The Face in the Glass.” I haven't looked at that poem in years, but I pulled it out after that day in the blind. I'd like to share it with you:
When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day,
Just go to a mirror and look at yourself
And see what THAT face has to say.
For it isn't your father or mother or spouse
Who judgment upon you must pass;
The person whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.
Some people might think you’re a straight-shootin' chum
And call you a wonderful guy,
But the face in the glass says you're only a bum
If you can't look it straight in the eye.
That's the one you must please, never mind all the rest.
That's the one with you clear to the end.
And you know you have passed your most dangerous test
If the face in the glass is your friend.
You may fool the whole world down the pathway of life
And get pats on your back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you've cheated the face in the glass.
As my buddy Art likes to say, “None of us are getting out of here alive.” One day we will all have to stare at the face in the glass for a final personal accounting of our lives. I hope that when that day comes for me, I have done enough of the right things so that, during my final self-analysis, I am not “rewarded” with heartache and tears.
I did get to put my tag on a turkey this year – but that wasn’t the trophy. The real trophy was the gentle reminder that I, too, may need to open up more windows in the personal blind I wear each day. That perhaps I need to be less myopic, and more understanding of those who don't generally share my ideology. That I may need to take a little more risk and let others get to know me more for who I am.