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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

The turkey hunt

Saturday, November 3, 2012

My youngest son had a story that made my hunting experiences sound good by comparison.

It seems as though his friend, Aaron, was into his third season of hunting turkeys with no luck. Since he works in a bait shop in Manhattan, he gets to see a lot of hunters; and one guy who is particularly successful told him if he didn't get a bird by the last weekend of the season, to give him a call and he would take him out and help him get a turkey.

When the Friday before the last weekend arrived, he still had no bird, so he made the call and the farmer said, "You be out at my place by 5 a.m. I've got eight toms in a tree." Out into the darkness they trudged and set up their shooting spots only to watch daylight come and no birds, so finally, at 10 o'clock, his hunting partner came to him and said, "Well I don't know where they went, but somehow, they got away."

Aaron thought, "Well, that's just my luck. They're gone again." The farmer suggested they go to another spot, so while they were driving to the new spot, they saw a group of turkeys coming across a wheat field. He said, "We own that quarter down there; let's get ahead of them and see if we can catch them as they come into the woods."

Getting to the woods necessitated crossing a stream, so with Aaron in the lead, they waded a chest-high stream only to arrive at the far bank and find it slick and mud covered. Just as Aaron was starting to climb up the bank and trying to keep from sliding, he heard the farmer whisper behind him, "To your left." He looked over and sure enough, there was a tom turkey looking directly at him.

After standing perfectly still and staring at each other for what seemed like forever, finally the turkey went behind the tree. Aaron shifted the gun, raised up while still chest deep in the water, and when the turkey reappeared, he took his best shot. The turkey hit the ground but then came up somewhat wobbly and started to run away. By now, Aaron was trying to climb out of the stream and get a foothold on the bank before the turkey left him in the mud. Finally, he regained his footing on the bank and took another shot at the turkey and missed as he watched the leaves fly. He aimed again and his gun jammed. By now, the turkey was starting to put some distance between them, so he threw his gun to the ground and set out in hot pursuit of the injured bird. A foot race ended in a wheat field when he made a flying tackle at the slightly wounded bird. The turkey promptly used his inch and a half spurs and cut up Aaron's arms before he could be subdued. As they were lying in the wheat field with Aaron on top of his elusive bird, the farmer came up behind barely able to contain his laughter at the sight he had just witnessed.

It turned out the turkey had an 11-inch beard, so he placed the beard on his bulletin board as proof that he'd finally bagged a turkey. Only the next day, he came home to find his cat had torn the beard to shreds. He was also old and tough, but after three years of hunting, Aaron said he was determined to eat him, so they had him for supper that night.

Aaron vowed he may quit turkey hunting because he's not sure he can stand having that much fun again.

Dick Hedges
Fort Scott Community College