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The Happy Turkey Hunters

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hunting wild turkey is a fine sport that requires skill, experience and a little luck. But sometimes hunters are tempted to dodge the luck part. Or so we were told.

It was a fine spring day when we went to visit a large spring in Reynolds County. An old-timer ambled down to converse with us as we admired the wide expanse of emerald cold water that came rushing out of one of the secret places of the earth. He showed us where the Ginseng had grown before an unknown visitor had stolen all of the valuable manroot.

“I expect it was fur the benefit of someone’s potency,” he told us, winking slyly.

My husband and I enjoyed standing in the warm sun, feeling the cool breeze on our faces as we swapped stories with this friendly old-timer. As we laughed at his stories and encouraged him to tell more, he warmed up to his best tale.

“Seems like folks from St. Louis just love to come down for a spell and hunt for wild turkey,” he began.

“Wild turkeys are smart and devious and difficult to catch,” I observed. “I know that when they are startled, they can scare a hunter into taking a bad shot by making a great deal of noise. The day it happened to me, I thought I was about to be attacked by a bear. You’d have to be smart and quick to bag a wild turkey.”

He winked at me and continued his story. “That’s true, Ma’am. But not everyone knows that. Some of the local boys who owned a lot of land thought to make themselves a little money and make some weekend hunters mighty happy at the same time.

“They advertised in a St. Louis paper promising hunters that for one hundred dollars a day, they’d git to hunt in a special good place that had been kept secret for years. In fact those good ole boys would guarantee that the city folks would bag at least one turkey each or get their money back.

“Twenty-five men took the offer. They came down early of a Saturday mornin’ all decked out in their expensive camouflage outfits. And do you know, every single one of them hunters shot his bird that day!” He exploded with laughter.”

“I don’t get it,” I told him.

Well, naturally, Ma’am, the landowners didn’t want to lose any of the hundred dollar fees. The local boys had an ace up their sleeves. They had driven up to a big city market and bought a passel of them live domestic turkeys a couple of days before and turned them loose in the field. Only paid a few dollars apiece for them.”

“But didn’t the hunters know the difference?” I wondered. “Domestic turkeys are white. Wild turkeys are brown. And domestic turkeys don’t know how to run and hide.”

“Ma’am, those turkeys are so dumb, they will drown if it rains.” Our narrator was nearly rolling with merriment by this point.

“Didn’t any of those hunters complain? I wondered.”

“Not a one, ”he told me” Not even one.” – Peggy Koch

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