Talking Turkey

Life On The Back Page - May 2016

Daryl Gay | May 12, 2016

If you know anything at all about turkey calls, I could’ve used some advice. There’s probably fortyleven good old boys in my phone contacts that could help, but if I start calling them at this hour of the day, WWIII is apt to break out.

So I’m sitting here as dawn threatens to crack. Got this wooden boxy-type contraption betwixt my paws. Got a rubber band doubled across the top, evidently to keep this-yer handle-type thing from whangin’ back and forth. Even got my name burned/engraved into it in script. Was a present.

Maybe they shoulda just got me socks…

I’m bound and determined to kill a turkey. That I called in. That last is negotiable to the point that I would very likely blast one lured within shotgun range by Dylan or Myles.

Assuming I could beat them to the draw, as it were. You must realize that my boys and I love competition the way Attilla loved Huns.

But, heh-heh, they ain’t here. (It’s unusual, since we’re pretty much a threesome, and they ain’t likin’ it, but they ain’t here.)

And, as usual, I’m wishing they were.

Now about this box call. (I’ve read enough in these pages to at least know what its monicker is.) Does the rubber band have a function, or should I remove it and set it down somewhere to never be seen or heard from again?

OK, it’s gone.

Forthwith, I seem to have witnessed one of the heathens scraping this handle across the top of the box, producing a sound much like fingernails down a chalkboard but allegedly the very thing to turn a turkey gobbler on quicker’n Chanel No. 5.

So let us rasp…     

Don’t know what it does for a tom, but every hair on my head just stood up and my teeth hurt. If I’m supposed to repeat this procedure until a turkey strolls within shotgun range, go ahead and get the rubber room ready.

But I ain’t’ a’givin’ up!

Let’s try four shakes of the handle, then give ourselves a couple of minutes to get over the screech while hoping something pops up. If that happens, it’s likely the turkey has plans to rip the box out of my hands and throw it into the creek 10 yards to my back.

Wait. What’s that?

Three somethings are crunching, bobbing and weaving through the leaves, headed my way. Let’s just ease this old Model 12 to its rightful place on my shoulder, slip the safety off and…

Have you noticed that Converse Chuck Taylor tennis shoes are making a comeback?

(Sorry. It’s just the way my mind works; I can’t explain where these things come from either…)

I see young ladies sporting the low-cut white Chuck Taylors a lot recently, and they wear them well. I was astounded at the neat look they made along with ladies’ jeans and shorts.

Because back in my day, when they first came out, the guy versions were quite possibly the ugliest things since cholera. And they ain’t changed. When I was a kid, you wouldn’t catch a woman or girl  passed out or dead wearing a pair.

But the truth is that Chuck Taylors were the only “tennis shoes” going. (And just what is a “Nike” anyway?)

My Uncle Glynn, five years older than me, wore a pair of white Chucks for two years before they were uncerimoniously passed down—now fashionably black.

Or so mama said.

They had less tread than a racing slick remaining and were only three sizes too large. I tried them on, broken strings and all, and flopped around the yard like a circus clown for approximately 30 seconds before deciding I’d rather kill squirrels and fashion my own footgear.

With that picture in mind, you now know what a quartet of three-toed turkey jakes looks like humping it across a creek bottom, competing for what they all believe is a lovelorn hen.

If there’s anything goofier than a teenaged turkey, I’ve never happened upon it. Each sported about a half-inch of beard, scrawny shanks, and I just didn’t want a piece of poultry bad enough to blast any of them. They never found the hen—or me, backed up on a sweetgum—and eventually wandered on.

I had put the call down, which was a relief for us all, but after a while decided to try one more time.

An immediate, booming gobble from 50 feet away almost got that sweetgum irrigated!

Boys, this ain’t no jake. While deer hunting on the ground, I’ve seen gobblers with ground-length beards almost at arms length, but they just never did anything for me. But this was my first one in full strut up-close and personal while cradling the 12.

However, there was a problem. Or two.

He was on the other side of that creek. Which happened to be the land line. And while I was 99 percent sure the neighbor wouldn’t mind at all, that last little percentile wasn’t about to allow me to pull a trigger. Just not done, old boy.

Oh, I could have done a regular guillotine job on him, but that’s what I get for not even thinking of mentioning it…

He wasn’t going to fly across the creek, and I wasn’t about to swim it or shoot over it. So after he preened up and down the bank a dozen times and gobbled until he was hoarse every time I ticked the box handle, we agreed to quit aggravating each other and go our separate ways.

But I’ll see him again. With permission this time.

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