By: Al Nixon
I want everyone who reads this to know that there are no false statements or concepts in it. Any or all of it may be exaggerated or colored though, for the purpose of bringing out the humor that I felt while thinking about it and deciding to write it.
MY FIRST TURKEY HUNT
YOU CAN DO EVERYTHING WRONG AND SCORE ANYWAY
It all started when I turned 50 and my wife bought me a deer rifle for my birthday. I had not hunted since I was young, and all of my brothers-in-law, were good deer hunters and I thought I might like to go along sometime. I didn’t feel like I’d want to just go and watch. Anyway, this began a sequence of events that I can’t seem to break out of, and that my wife is not extremely satisfied with. A recent comment went something like, -- "I didn’t think hunting would take you over. I thought you might go up for a day, or a weekend, but now it’s a week for deer, and several days for turkeys, what’s next? Well on with the saga.
THE SEED GOT PLANTED
Along about mid January, my brother-in-law, Earl mentioned that he was considering the spring turkey hunt. After a short discussion, we decided to apply for licenses. After all, there was no guarantee that we’d get them, so it wasn’t like we’d already decided without consulting our wives or anything. Next came some reading, and some contemplating of how one hunts turkeys etc.
COMMUNICATION IS GOOD
Wives are often known to make comments concerning the reluctance of the husbands to communicate. I believe in communication and quantity seems to be one of the criteria for good communications. I also was quite sure that opening the subject of additional hunting would, indeed, promote a quantity of communication between my wife and myself. I would have thought that bringing it up as a topic I was highly interested in, would be a good thing. Since my wife and I never set out to say derogatory things about each other, and because I could certainly have handled myself more gallantly, I won’t get into any real detail about the multitude of conversations which followed concerning turkey hunting. Suffice it to say that I do not understand everything I know about marital communications.
Now its time to get ready. Earl and I discussed the fact that we don’t own shotguns and think hunting with our 22’s is probably going to be ok. Nope, it’s illegal to use anything larger than #4 shot to kill a turkey. Ok, Earl found a nice Mossberg shotgun with a second (fully rifled) barrel which is drilled and tapped for scope. Excellent! A perfect weapon. Turkey gun and lower tier deer gun all in one. I checked it out on the internet. Wow, $450.00 on sale, great price. He isn’t sure he is ready to pay that much. I don’t blame him. I’m waiting for an increase at work so I can tell how much I can spend. (More spousal communications. Keep in mind that all of this communications is not necessarily negative. Just sort of forced upon us.) I think to myself, then share with my wife, "I can get an inexpensive shotgun and put the money back into my account later. The increase will be retro-active when it finally comes through so that will work." (More spousal communications). Earl calls and says he got a bonus at work, and its exactly the missing amount between what he has and the cost of the Mossberg. I get depressed. Meanwhile I get a tape by Knight & Hale on spring turkey hunting. I watch the tape. I notice that these guys get really big turkeys all the time and that they are always covered head to toe in camouflage. I also notice that they have some sophisticated calling devices. I order some of each from the internet. (More spousal communications) I find a shotgun in Wal-Mart and it’s a Marlin and costs just $79.00. Two days later, I decide that due to some discoloration in the breech of the Marlin shotgun, it must be one of a kind, and therefore I should be able to get it at an even greater discount. I grab my wife and head to the store. When I get there, and discuss the situation with the store manager, I find that I can’t save any more money, and I decide to buy the display model anyway. When I fill out the application form, I misread the question about military discharge and answer that I did get a dishonorable one. The manager turns down the app. I beg to know what is wrong and she just hands it back and asks "are these the answers you wanted to put on this application?" I found the error and she was kind enough to void that one and let me fill out another. I pick up some ammo and a cleaning kit while I’m there. The clerk goes into the back room and gets a brand new, discolored, shotgun in the box and brings it out. I blush. I buy it. We leave Wal-Mart (More spousal communications)
THE HUNTING TRIP
Earl and I decided after normal conversations with our wives that we would leave for the deer camp after church. We both felt that as soon after church as possible would be appropriate due to unforeseen possible maintenance at camp.
Deer camp is an affectionate name assigned to a beat up old barn and silo on the family’s private land. Inside the barn (un-removeable and non self contained) is an old pickup camper that was once the whole, and at the time, most modern living space. It had a pail with a toilet seat, which was sometimes inside and sometimes outside. Now it is still useable, mostly as a bunk house, but has been augmented by a self contained travel trailer, also old. The new quarters have heat, running water, running HOT water, flush toilet, shower, and a full service kitchen. All of which are real old but did not exist in the former facilities. The trailer belongs to the hunters, collectively, and they know who they are, and it has become obvious that they are not highly skilled winterizers. It has set unused twice since placed there and both times the water system has leaked when pressured backed up.
This time it was Earl and myself on site, and the pressure up sequence seemed to go well until I noticed a puddle growing in the bathroom. I could see that it was coming out of the base of the toilet. Now it is appropriate at this point to mention that I weigh in excess of 300 lbs. It is also true that I do not bend. I mean, I do bend but not too tightly and when bent a bit tightly, I don’t unbend. By default, Earl began to disassemble the toilet. This is not a nice task when all is well. All was not well. We had no tools to speak of. We needed parts. We, (Earl) got very tired and very stiff. We drove down the road to borrow tools, and found no one home. This was a relative, and a nice one at that so we borrowed tools without asking. The tools were sufficient but not speedy. Finally we drove to town and bought parts. Actually we bought pieces and built parts. What broke was the inlet valve that activates when you step on the flush pedal. The only other function of the flush pedal is to open the hole at the bottom so whatever is in there will fall out. A spring loaded valve for a non name brand camper would be hard to find at 9:00 P.M. on Sunday, so we were going to be out of luck. We both had a pained look on our faces while discussing the fact that we might just leave everything and finish fixing it tomorrow. Our visions of hunting and of needing to use the prior toilet systems etc. led us to the idea to replace the busted valve with a piece of hose and a nozzle. This required several pipe parts and several hose parts but worked like a champ. We finally got back, had dinner, and (Earl) finished putting the toilet back together. We tested it and gave it a few wet runs. Those are really dry runs but with water hoses it didn’t seem like the right phrase. All worked as planned and we were ready for bed, approximately 1:00 AM.
I neglected to mention that Earl had been a chaperone at a youth rally the 2 previous nights and was really bushed. He slept well. I had a severe head cold and it was threatening to go into my lungs so I was out also.
Morning came at 6:00 AM and it was raining outside. I apologized to Earl that I couldn’t go out in the cold and wet in my condition and covered back up. He mumbled something about teenagers and toilets and he covered back up also.
We finally got up at about 9: something, and ate some bagels and got ready. We put on our warm clothing, our camouflage hats, camouflage masks, camouflage gloves, and camouflage jackets. I had spent 2.5 hours Saturday night putting camouflage contact paper on my shotgun. Even though it’s made for that, it’s really not easy to apply. It came out wrinkled so I loosened it up and tried again. The final result was that it came out wrinkled. I still have the cold and still weigh 300 + so on the way out, I began to wheeze, intermingled with periodic sneezing, coughing, gasping, snorting, nose blowing, choking, and wheezing again. By now we are about 30 yards from the trailer. This continued for about a half to ¾ of a mile. We would stop and the throbbing red beacon of my face would glow a bit less, and Earl would try the turkey call. I tried mine too but it didn’t sound nearly as realistic so I let him do most of the calling. Finally we got a response, and moved to a woods location to set up and call some turkeys in. Earl sat down by a tree. I folded myself up into a little clump of trees and unfolded a portable blind (because I can’t get my legs all the way down to the ground and not pull a tendon or something) to hide the fact that I didn’t have camouflage pants on. I tried my call. Nothing. Earl tried his, and got a response, but it was way to my right. I tried to turn my body without turning my legs. HA. Anyway I got so I could see straight to my right. Actually I was looking west, and pointed south. Out of the corner of my eye, the very corner only, I say 2 dark shapes that looked like turkeys. I could also see Earl wagging a finger feverishly toward them. Now you must understand, that in order to shoot a turkey you have to be stock still or he will see you and keep going. They kept going. Earl called some more. I called some more. No response. It was no easy task to look at Earl but finally I did and there went that finger again, but this time he was signaling to go around through the woods and head em off at the pass. Away we went.
Huff puff, gasp, wheeze, snort, choke, blow cough wheeze. Earl says huh?! And keeps going. Huff puff, gasp, wheeze, snort, choke, blow cough wheeze . Huff puff, gasp, wheeze, snort, choke, blow cough wheeze. Earl says huh?! And looks around. Says " Am I going too fast? I hold up my thumb and forefinger to indicate a little and he slows down a little. Silly me, I always try to be as little trouble as possible and should have just grabbed him and dragged him to the ground. Huff puff, gasp, wheeze, snort, choke, blow cough wheeze. Earl says huh?! I say, the turkeys are walking faster than we are, and going in a straight line. Earl says oh yeah and slows down. Whew!!!!!
I had become more like me and less like a steam engine by the time we got to our old double deer blind and Earl suggested we sit down and rest a while. Did I ever tell you that I love Earl sometimes? Anyway while we were traveling I got rid of my mask, I shed the gloves and the portable blind before leaving the first stop. So here I am sitting with no camouflage on my face or hands. Yes it is still on my gun. Earl honks a couple times and gets a nice gobble in return. This happens one or 2 more times and I notice, besides the fact that the finger is again doing the mean waggle, that there is a nice big tom at the end of the main shooting lane at my end of the blind. I turn to square up on it. The tom turns and walks calmly out of range. Now I notice that there is a group of subordinate toms coming by that same lane. Earl keeps calling, they keep coming. We are talking to each other regularly now, Earl and I as well as Earl and the turkeys. We notice that the birds, or at least some of them have beards. They are about 30 yards out now. BLAM! Earl blasts one. Flop flop, flop, and the other birds are running around but not running away. Earl and I are talking right out loud now. "Do you see a beard on that one? He’s looking right at me and I can’t tell." "Yeah I think I see a beard." "Are you sure?" "I think so. BLAM! I blast one. Earl says, "that’s not the one I was looking at". "Really, did it have a beard?" "I don’t know I was looking at another bird" "Great, I wonder if I shot an illegal bird, Oh well we better go get em". When we did get to the birds mine was a bit larger and had a bit longer beard than Earls.
We started back to the barn, and a little way into the field we got tired. The birds were still growing, getting heavier as we went. We decided to stop. Earl laid right down on his back in the field. I might have too, but it would have taken a wrecker to get me back up. We got concerned about whether or not our birds were legal because I thought I remembered that the beards had to be a certain length and we didn’t know what length that was. When we got back to camp, we hung the birds in the barn, jumped into the truck and went into town. We got to town before noon, and found out that the turkeys just needed beards of any length. We returned to the deer camp and cleaned the birds. We spent the next day and a half just wandering around the woods and enjoying all of the wildlife.
By the way my bird weighed 11 pounds. Earl’s would have to be less by default, since he didn’t weigh his. My bird was weighed in by my wife, who just grabbed it and jumped on the scales with it.