Is Taking Coffee to the Woods a Sign of Weakness?

May 11, 2020 | by Nick Pinizzotto

I can’t remember a colder spring gobbler season. I once shot a fall turkey in North Dakota as the wind chill dropped to -10 degrees and another in Ohio when the temperature was in the 20s, but this is treading new territory for spring. The Northeast got pummeled by a polar vortex during the first week of May and many of us woke up to snow on the ground to start Mother’s Day weekend. Of the four days that I went turkey hunting, three of them started with temperatures near or below freezing.

I put up a blind setting the stage to ambush an experienced Tom that had given me the slip a couple of times already. My plan was to sneak in under the cover of darkness the next morning and set my decoys in his strutting zone before he woke up. “How could he resist?” I thought as I contemplated my devious plan that seemed failsafe at the time.

The next morning as I staggered sleep drunk to the coffee pot to fill my travel mug the thought occurred to me that maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to fill a small thermos as well. I hesitated for a moment because this is something I had never considered before. “Does it say something about me and being an aging hunter if I take hot coffee to the blind?” I wondered. I was going to be in a blind anyway with my movements concealed and turkeys can’t smell, so what would be the harm in it? I decided it would be okay to give it a try to see how I felt about it knowing I was crossing a line I had never crossed before.

While at first it seemed a little awkward pulling the thermos from my vest, it only took a sip to make me realize what I had been missing for all these years. The temperature was barely above freezing and the hot sip of Joe was enough to provide a comforting, tingling sensation that reached all the way to my toes. It was good. Maybe it was too good? Why was it so good and should I feel guilty that it was? My mind was racing but going all in and drinking more coffee just seemed to happen. I saw the hand on the mug but couldn’t reconcile that it was mine. Would I ever be the same?

Later that evening I found myself so concerned that I wouldn’t have coffee in the blind the following morning that I set my thermos out before I went to bed. They say addiction can happen fast but I suddenly didn’t recognize the guy that had somehow hunted without a thermos of coffee for more than 30 years. Being confused about the person I may be turning into, I did what anyone would do and went to the internet for help. More specifically, I ran a poll on Twitter to find out if I was now a man or a mouse and I got the response I was hoping for.

It turns out the masses don’t think it’s a sign of weakness or growing old if I want to enjoy some hot coffee while afield. Marc Schwabenlander (@Lethal_Insight) gave me a digital fist bump when he commented “It exemplifies your optimal fitness in that the extra weight does not limit you.” I never thought of it that way, so now I’m considering carrying a thermos of coffee as a form of cross training, which makes me tougher than most from my perspective!

As another commenter (@tijitisi) pointed out, “It’s helping you to fully enjoy the experience and providing extra warmth to help stay in the field that much longer for more opportunity to see something.” Collin Cottrell (@collin_cottrell) added, “It’s a perfect compliment to a morning turkey hunt,” and I have to say I agree. I’m still not sure I like having something else in my pack to add weight, make noise, or become a distraction, but I’m still in the experimental phase and plan to reach out to the experts who have been doing it for a long time.

Despite the favorable poll results, there were still a few votes that went to the “you’re getting soft” option, and I would have probably voted that way as well before now. The truth is there isn’t a right or wrong answer and as hunters we should do what makes us happy, while not running afoul of the law of course. Maybe I am a little softer than I used to be and not as focused on results as I once was, but I’m still out there slugging away, and with a cup of coffee.