They sat behind the old stump on the hill. They were waiting for the flock of wild turkeys to show up. They had been there since before daylight.
He had been watching that flock for the last two months and knew their schedule completely. For creatures with a brain the size of a marble, turkeys are proficient dodgers during hunting season. You get one chance and you just can’t blow it.
Rewind two days….
“My Daddy, My Daddy…please let me go hunt some turkeys with you!” Leiren asked. “Baby, turkey hunting is serious business, it’s for men and it’s not something a little girl would enjoy. We KILL the turkey!” he responded.
“I want to help you Daddy. I can help!” was her adamant response. “No baby, I will be getting up before daylight, you won’t even know I left!” he replied. “Oh Daddy…plleeeeeeeeeez let me go!”
She was only four at the time and too young to understand the seriousness of this game.
Fast forward back….
He got up before daylight on the first day of turkey season. He put on his chamo’s and headed to the living room, tiptoeing so as not to disturb the sleeping child. Yet… there she was with her coat in one hand, her toy gun in the other. “So, how far up the hill do we go Daddy?” she asked. “I tell you what, this is your ONE chance…you be quiet and you sit still and you can come with me. If you mess up, I send you straight home where you QUIETLY walk back down the hill to the house” was his response.
At that point he woke me up and explained they would be gone for a few minutes until she realized this was not her sport.
As daylight approached, he began skillfully stroking the wood of the turkey call. “wrawk wrawk wrawk” it played. “Wrawk Wrawk Wrawk Wrawk Wraaaawk”. Suddenly, they heard it “galobblelobblelobblelobbble” he answered. The game was on. The old tom heard the call and answered. Her eyes widened and her face became nothing but teeth she was smiling so big. Her expression of awe of this man – her Daddy – encouraged him to continue instead of sending her home.
Again – “wrawk wrawk wrawk wrawk wraaaawk” he called. “galobblelobblelobblelobbble” Tom answered only closer this time. “Daddy – shoot it!” she ever so softly whispered. “ssshhhh baby – they can hear us…it’s still too far away!” he softly told her. “do it again Daddy!”….”shhhhh baby – I will!”
He skillfully played the call several more times. She listened and peeped over the stump on occasion. She could see them now in the distance. She clasped her mouth tightly, resisting the urge to tell him again to shoot but gave the hand signal of a gun shooting. He tensed, this could be it! This tom was massive- a trophy. He motioned to her to be still and quiet as they continued the game of calling him closer.
He forgot about the child as each call rendered a response and a closer approach of the turkey. She watched in amazement at the ability of her Daddy to bring this wild creature so close with this magical instrument made out of wood. The tom moved closer and closer…her body became frigid and she finally leaned into her Daddy “now Daddy, shoot him now” she whispered, barely audible. “Baby, just a little closer and he’s ours” he told her.
Something happened and Tom hesitated. Did he know? Was he just cautious? Leiren tensed and squeezed her Daddy’s arm. She could tell by the look on his face that she was not allowed to speak but she was a mere child and patience was not her virtue. She HAD TO bring this game to a quick close. Knowing that her Daddy was just a few feet within range, she quickly stood up and demanded “Git over here Turkey!” fully expecting the command to end the crisis.
The joy of being only four and directly disobeying an order is that the disobedience at certain times leaves stories to be forever told. Old Tom probably still recalls with great joy the time the call became a human’s voice and scared him away. My husband recalls the incident as one of his favorite days with his daughter. Now sixteen, she has learned to roll her eyes as he tells the story. I wonder if she were to go hunting with him today, would her patience be any better?
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