Wild turkeys in Venezuela?

April 17, 2009

Faith Outdoors

One week ago today, on Good Friday, I participated in the longest and most unique religious service of my life. It’s called “Via Cruces Grande” and it took place in the City of San Felix, Venezuela, home of the archdiocesan mission parish, Jesucristo Resucitado.

Starting at the church, a group of about 300, myself included, walked in procession through all 11 neighborhoods — or barrios — of the parish. It lasted five and a half hours and covered several miles. It would have been hard enough in moderate climate, but was all the more difficult in the tropical heat, with temperatures reaching 100 degrees.
About halfway through the event, I was jolted by the sight of a wild turkey in someone’s yard. Actually, I use the term “yard” loosely because there is very little grass in front of many of the houses, this one included. Yet, there was the large tom, in full strut and gobbling at us as we walked by.
Naturally, that got me to thinking about the upcoming turkey hunting season. Minnesota’s opening day was Wednesday, with my five-day season beginning May 10. However, I will start turkey hunting on Monday, April 27 in Missouri with Bishop Joe Charron of the Diocese of Des Moines. I met him last spring when I came down with one of our reporters, Maria Wiering, to do a story on the diocese before Bishop Richard Pates was ordained its new bishop.
Bishop Charron and I discovered a mutual interest in turkey hunting and he invited me to join him for a hunt in Missouri this spring. I will drive down to Des Moines on Sunday, April 26 and then we will go from there to a farm owned by a friend of his south of Kansas City. I’m not sure what to expect. The turkey reproduction has been down in Missouri the last few years, but there are still plenty of birds around. I hope to have a face-to-face encounter with one of them.
Meanwhile, I’m continuing to sort through all of the pictures I shot down in Venezuela. I probably shot about 1,500 to 2,000 photos total and have had a chance to go through them this week. Three from Holy Week appear in this week’s edition of The Catholic Spirit, plus I have put more into a photo gallery.
I have two more things planned in terms of coverage of my trip. First, I will write my upcoming monthly outdoors column on a fishing trip on the Caroni River. Second, I will put together a feature on the mission in Venezuela, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2010. Stay tuned!

About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

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