“Cod, don’t move, that turkey is standing down there right where you were sitting,” I glanced over at my hunting buddy Randal. I was standing close to him but not facing downhill as he was. I was a little skeptical, and I figured Randal might be messing with me but I didn’t want to turn my head and look if the turkey was close. I took a slow step backward behind a screen of brush and hoped that I was hidden from the alleged gobbler. (Pictured above: Some of the Cod Squad members a few years ago. L-R: Randall Hensley, Jason Cooper, Mike Cooper, Woodrow Brogan)
We had been working on this turkey for the last two hours and I was about done in.
I watched Randal’s face as he stared downhill and when he grimaced I knew that the turkey was gone. We had been working on this turkey for the last two hours and I was about done in. I had just now extracted myself from the place I had been sitting and the hillside location plus the awkward position I was forced to sit in while calling to this turkey was near torture. After I could stand it no more I dragged myself upright and walked uphill to where my buddy was located. After a few minutes of hushed conversation he tells me that the turkey is checking out the place where I was sitting. That, my friends is turkey hunting.
And turkey hunting has been the basis for a friendship…
And turkey hunting has been the basis for a friendship with hunting partners from West Virginia and Georgia for the past forty three years. Well, some of us think it is forty three years, it could be forty one, and I will try to explain. You see a few years ago we lost our leader of the group, George “Tomcat” Dooley, from Ellijay, Georgia. Tomcat organized joint turkey hunts between the two states and was the official keeper of all records, who attended what year, who brought in gobblers, who missed, and so forth. Since he has passed on no one really knows for sure exactly how things started and who did what, kind of like things disappear into the mist of time in ancient history.
Randall and I made our way up the hill and started the long walk toward the truck. This was Monday of the third week of the season; and even though we had been thoroughly hoodooed by this turkey I didn’t feel too bad. By the end of the week, however, I knew I would definitely be thinking about some form of physical therapy.
Back at camp we find that no one else has scored either but this does not hinder Mike Cline from Georgia or Walt Shupe from West Virginia from whipping up a big breakfast (or is it brunch?). Bacon and eggs, some delicious sausage Mike has brought from Georgia, biscuits, apple butter and jelly, and other breakfast treats. While we gorge a full report from each turkey hunting team is given and everyone agrees that while no one gave a turkey a ride home in their truck, everyone heard and saw turkeys and prospects for the week look bright. After eating, most of the crowd slips away for a much-needed nap.
The back porch session held every evening before supper is especially rowdy this evening.
On Tuesday Mike Cooper and Randall are paired up and they get on a gobbler near one of our favorite places, the “Tater Patch”. Mike scores on this turkey and we are all glad that somebody broke the ice. I am not the least bit jealous of Mike bringing in a gobbler, (well, maybe just a little). The back porch session held every evening before supper is especially rowdy this evening. Everyone speculates how Mike and Randall actually downed this turkey and the razzing as always, is fast and furious. Did this turkey has some sort of vision and hearing impairment or was he not exactly the smartest turkey in the neighborhood?
The other thing I notice is my ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound has somehow diminished.
By Wednesday two things are apparent to me. One is that the turkeys are not nearly as chatty as they were on Monday, with some of them being downright standoffish and others acting like they owe you money. They are not cooperating at all. The other thing I notice is my ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound has somehow diminished. The hills are steeper, if that is possible, and it is entirely possible that I am just not as mad at these turkeys as in the past. I even think about mentioning something about staying in bed one morning, but my foolish pride and the scorn that I know would be heaped upon me keeps me from doing so.
I am a little sad for the party to break up early but I know he needs to get home so I don’t say much…
Thursday the turkeys are doing no better in the conversation department and I know that John from the Georgia delegation is thinking about leaving early. Rain is being predicted, the turkeys are acting stupid, and in truth, he needs to get home and attended to a doctor visit related to his recent surgery. After he mentions that he may want to leave today the other Georgia boys say they will join him and leave as well. I am a little sad for the party to break up early but I know he needs to get home so I don’t say much, just the usual guy stuff about “Well, it’s about time you left,” and “You’ve been here too long anyway.” That sort of thing.
Hurried goodbyes are said in the driveway and I stand and listen as their trucks roll down the hill and out the road leading to camp. Everyone claims we will do it again next year and I believe that, but you cannot help but think about how the constraints of time, age, and our frailties as human beings can get in the way of our plans.
Number forty four next year? I hope so as I listen till I can’t hear trucks anymore and think that if Tomcat was here he could sort all this out.
– Larry Case. HashtagWV #132. June 2021. Contact Larry at Larryocase3@gmail.com. and visit GunsandCornbread.com
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