Turkey Day

After 2 years of promising I finally came through for my son. Thanks to my boss LTC George Cone for some days off in the middle of a cycle and one of my brothers in Christ and hunting buddy Jeremy Harrell it finally happened!

I couldn't have asked for a more perfect day, the weather was awesome. It is turkey season in NC. The population of wild turkeys in the south has skyrocketed in the last few years. As a boy I never even saw one, but thanks to wildlife management these magnificent birds are once again thriving in our area.

Jack and I have been talking about it for while. We got up early yesterday morning and Jeremy picked us up at home. We made our way over to eastern Iredell county to a piece of beautiful land that a friend lets us hunt. We were running a little late but we just quickened our pace down to the wood line where Jeremy suspected the turkeys would roost. It was about a ½ mile down in there. It was a bit cool and Jack had his winter coveralls on that I noticed were fitting better than last year. Man he’s getting big!

At the power lines we heard a gobble down in the trees and Jeremy called back with his slate call. Off in the distance we heard him gobble back. My heart stated racing then. It was mine and Jack’s first Turkey hunt. I really didn’t know what to expect. I was prepared for disappointment just like my deer hunting escapades.

Jeremy said that we needed to close the distance on the bird because they’d be coming out of the tree soon to begin their day. If a turkey sees you its pretty much over. They have keen eyesight and can spot humans a long way off. We picked up the pace as the sun rose over the NC countryside.

We came to a barbed wire fence, Jeremy jumped it like a rabbit, but little Jack looking like Randy, the little brother in a Christmas Story, got hung in the barbs. He panicked for minute. I looked at him and with all the fatherly wisdom I could muster said, “calm down buddy and lift your leg and crawl under.” He was crying now, because he was frustrated with himself, I suspect afraid he’d disappoint me. No chance of that happening.

We got over and under the fence and Jeremy came running back from a small ridge. We were in thick undergrowth now. A big open field lay off the east about 100 meters away. In a hushed but excited voice, Jeremy said “He’s coming, get down by this tree now!”

2 minutes later there he came. I was using my brother's 20 year old 870 12 gauge. I was a bit worried the thing would fire. I had a terrible shot, so many saplings between me and him. He was way out there too about 50 yards away. Jeremy gobbled and the Tom answered. He came into a small lane between me and him, raised his head and the sun touched that little red floppy deal hanging from his neck (my scientific description)…and I fired….and he went down!

Jeremy took off running. I was sort of shocked and just sat there, but regained my senses grabbed Jack in tow and made a bee line for the bird. There he was. Jeremy hollered and jumped on me like a monkey hugging a tree, every part of his body off the ground. That sort of shocked me too! He was a good bird, 9.5 inch beard and about 18 pounds or so. We took a minute to thank God for the privilege of being able to do this. Jeremy told me his prayers were answered and I’m grateful they were. Jack was pumped up and is ready for the next hunt.

I sit this morning writing this and am reminded that moments and memories are so precious. No amount of money will ever buy what we experienced yesterday as a father and son and a friend. My buddy Keith helped us dress it out and tonight we’ll eat food that we brought in ourselves that God provided.

Thanks again t everyone who made it possible, my wife Tammy who never looks at hunting as a waste of time but as something that is intrinsic to being a man and father, Jeremy for your skill in the woods, Keith and Robbie for your continued selfless service to my family, LTC Cone for your friendship and for a couple of days off and finally to Jack my little man who is growing up, thanks for being my son.

God thank you for the many blessings of this life and for the greatest gift of all just knowing You.

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