You can call them trophies if you like, but to me they are memories. Every hunt has a story, and every life we take has meaning beyond our own enjoyment afield. When I finally connected with this public land gobbler after a hard hunt and a string of mishaps, I wanted to honor the moment long after the meat was gone and the feathers had all been tied into flies. Every time I look at this memento, I think of the how my heart sank when I realized I had lost my trigger housing pin and almost my entire trigger while the bird closed in. Or how all the small decisions I had made came together for that split-second opportunity, with the trigger box clenched tightly into the gun with one hand as I slowly squeezed and felt the shot break with the other.
Every time I look at this memento I am grateful for our American system of public lands that allowed me to pick a spot on the map and have an epic adventure. I will remember that ridge top, that logging road, those noisy hens, and this beautiful tom every time I see the beard and spurs dangling in the breeze.