KEVIN TATE: Gyms, turkeys, outfitters designed to get the best of us all

By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer

Driving along the interstate the other day, I saw a billboard for Champion Fitness, a 24-hour workout place of the sort that has become popular, and it hit me: this is a market that needs a sector for the less ambitious exercising public. There needs to be an alternative for those of us who’ve moved past the need for athletic championships and now aspire only to mediocrity in that area of our lives.
There needs to be a category of workout establishment that makes you feel like you’re doing a lot of good just by paying your monthly fee because, for many like me, that’s the most effort we regularly give. I don’t expect to look like the guy in the Bowflex commercial, I just want to still fit into my suit. How many calories does a bank auto-draft burn? Occasional Fitness? Cheaper Than New Clothes? Last Belt Loop Gym?
This thought hit me as I was returning from a different sort of workout program altogether. Some Mossy Oak team members and I had spent a few days in northwestern Kansas with an outfitter who had lots and lots of turkeys, but who didn’t personally turkey hunt. In a wide open place like the Great Plains, this can be a very mixed blessing. because we were trying to capture turkey hunts on video, something that requires a good deal more from an opportunity than just a mature gobbler closer than 50 yards.
The land was almost entirely broad expanses of coverless, gently-sloping flats, broken by sharp, narrow creek bottoms grown up in willow and cottonwood. At one point, we spied two strutting turkeys well out into the wide open and devised a plan to slip along a creek, hidden by the high bank, until we were close enough to set up and call. The guide said he’d stay with the truck, far out of sight of the birds.
Rusty McDaniels and I spent more than an hour carefully covering a mile or more of winding creek, side hilling the banks, easing through and under willow limbs, slipping up to the crest of the rise every so often to look through binoculars, reconfirming the birds were there time and again.
Covering the last 200 yards uphill slowlyand quietly on elbows and knees, we peeped through the grass at the top expecting to see strutting turkeys below us at 75 yards and found, nothing. Wondering what happened we looked to our left and, 300 yards away at the crest of the highest ground for miles around stood the guide, grinning. With the truck parked right behind him.
“No turkeys down there,” he said.
So much for the effort spent on that one. Good cardio, though.
Kevin Tate is V.P. of Media Productions for Mossy Oak in West Point