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The Science of Hunting
by Matt Solomon, Staff Writer

For most people at West G, obtaining a turkey is as simple as a trip to the grocery store. Science teacher, Mr. Mike Sustin, however, takes a more hands-on approach. For the past twenty five years, since he was about eleven years old, Sustin has been an avid hunter. In hunting he runs the gambit from ducks, to deer, to turkeys, to squirrels. As the seasons for different animals are regulated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the time of year greatly determines what animals are hunted. In fall, Sustin hunts deer, ducks, and geese. He also enjoys hunting rabbits but says that’s only fun when it’s snowing.

Although there is a short turkey season each fall, Sustin prefers to hunt turkeys in spring. Besides a 12 gauge shotgun, Sustin uses quite a bit of strategy. In spring hunting one is only allowed to shoot male turkeys, or “toms.” This is due to the fact that most hens are nurturing eggs, and, according to Sustin, “You don’t want to take adults when they should be making more [turkeys] to hunt next fall.” In order to attract toms, Sustin uses two different methods, both involving “calling” (the use of a whistle-like object to duplicate turkey noises). The first method attracts toms who already have a group of hens. For this, Sustin will make a sound that attracts the hens, and the unsuspecting toms come along. The other method is attracting toms who have no flock of hens. For this a more interesting strategy is taken. Says Sustin: “If you’re hunting bachelor toms, you just want to sound sexy to them.” (Perhaps he should try Barry White).

Because turkeys by nature are extremely skittish, even if a hunter can attract one, he must be extremely careful not to scare it away. Turkey hunters not only stay extremely still, they must also wear total camouflage, as turkeys have color vision (to those with after school activities, this explains Mr. Sustin walking through the halls dressed like a storm-trooper). The closest a turkey will come to a hunter without being scared off is about 40 yards. Once a turkey is close enough to give the hunter a good shot, a shotgun is used, pointed at the head, with the hopes that one of the pellets will enter its skull. Sustin explains, “It is extremely important to shoot the head as their plumage is so thick, pellets will just bounce off.”

When Sustin does kill a turkey, he generally eats it, deep fried, with the exception of the occasional trophy-quality bird. In his home, Sustin has one mounted turkey (he has no deer trophies because, as he says, “I haven’t killed anything worth mounting.”) Due to the shortness of the fall season, and his preference for hunting ducks and geese with his dogs, Sustin, like everyone else, buys his Thanksgiving turkey (and deep fries it, of course).

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