ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CHERYL JOST
“What piece of firepower will you be using?” I asked the walking pile of camouflage that had just entered my bedroom.
“A 20-gauge, semiautomatic full-choke shotgun with game load. We’re looking for some magnums, but we haven’t found any yet.”
Somewhere under several layers of green and brown fake foliage, my son was speaking with an air of authority about plans for his first official turkey hunt.
“Magnums? What do you mean, magnums?” I instantly conjured up images of Dirty Harry.
“It’s a type of shotgun shell. Dad’s looking for some.”
Magnums? It just sounded like a bit of overkill to me, but then I’m not really into blasting living things out of this life and into the next, so to speak. Alex, on the other hand, has inherited a love for the hunt. That definitely comes from his father.
And his grandpa, Bert. Bert has been hunting turkeys for years, and this weekend he will have a young companion at his side. Swathed in camo, his first turkey tag secured away in an inside pocket of his hunting vest, my son will take to the field with his grandpa and his dad in search of the elusive wild turkey.
I don’t know if turkeys are really “elusive.” I just thought that sounded good.
Over the years, we have had several of the big birds nonchalantly strut across our property, not giving a second glance to a barking dog or the semi trailer trucks that roar down the nearby highway. They don’t seem too shy to me.
In any event, this weekend, Alex will be the hunter while the adults will be along only to act as guides and camera crew. Statewide, Friday through Sunday has been set aside only for young hunters, a “special season” for the newly armed to try their hand at the sport without having to compete with the more seasoned stalker.
And even though the event is days away, my son has been making preparations as if he were going to the wilds of Tibet for a three-month trek. He has adjusted and readjusted his camouflage overalls, hat and…what should I call this thing?
It’s not really a facemask, it’s more of a veil, but a veil would be too girly. Hmmm, it’s like a piece of netting that goes over his head and face. OK, a face net, maybe?
He and Keith have gone over the shotgun to make sure everything is working properly and have studied boxes and boxes of shotgun shells at every store we have entered that carries such products.
My son, with his dad’s supervision, has been shooting at targets and scouting out sites. Grandpa delivered a “scratch call,” a box-like affair that replicates the sound of a hen to help Alex call in the big toms.
Which reminds me. With some left over Christmas money, Alex recently bought another turkey call, this one the type that the hunter places in his or her mouth and blows through to emulate the sound of a turkey looking for love. It’s called a “raspy old hen” call.
It makes me wonder. If I were a tom turkey in an amorous mood, would I be listening for the sound of a raspy, old hen or a sweet, young butterball? One with lots of white meat and a nice pair of drumsticks. Raspy, old hen sounds more like her cantankerous, over protective mother.
Anyway, there are days when I think I’ll go nuts from all the squawks and squeaks, but this is the price I pay for having a son emerging from childhood and passing through the threshold of manhood.
For Alex, it’s more than a turkey hunt. It’s a rite of passage. He’s come to an age when, after successfully completing a hunter’s safety course and after showing good sense, respect and responsible behavior, his dad and I have agreed that he’s earned the privilege to join the men of the family in one of their favorite sports. Not as a s