Garden & Gun

BOSS HEN

THE GOBBLER GOBBLES, and his hens come to him. That’s the rule of thumb. He who gobbles loudest, puffs up the biggest, rakes his wings most aggressively against the ground, and hammers his spurs into the most heads gets the girls. At least that’s how it appears at first glance.

But picture this: It is the hen who strings the boys along those first few weeks after the winter breakup, the hen who pecks around the woods uninterested in struts and gobbles until she is ready, the hen who makes herself a place and lies down to signal she is receptive to breeding, and the hen who then wanders off to make her nest and raise her clutch alone. She is a bullheaded single mother who needs the old boy for one thing, and she doesn’t need him long. She’ll put up with the ego till the deed is done, then vanish without so much as goodbye. In a few short days, the king of spring goes from Macho Man Randy Savage to a sack full of lonely, nothing but hollow gobbles and an empty stomach. Make no mistake—the hen sets the terms.

It was the last few hours of opening day for Florida’s Osceola

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