My hunting and fishing mentor along with my hero was my father. It was the spring of 1977 I was 8 years old. I was clutching a Stevens mod. 311 .410 bore SxS in one hand and my cedar box call my father had made and given to me as a Christmas present that year in the other. We hadn't gotten out of the glow of the porch light and the legs of my overall's were already soaking wet with the heavy dew that was covering the grass in the field. Thats when it happened there was a thunderous noise that filled the air. It seemed to shake the leave on the trees and made the ground shutter under my feet. It had caught me by surprise as it was still well before daylight when the old monarch sounded off. My father found us a tree and had me sit beside him. He whispered to me that we would just sit there for a bit and see what was on the old birds mind. I sat there and listened to the bird sounding off every few minutes or so and started to shiver as the cold started creeping in from my wet paint legs that had also soaked into my boots. As the sun slowly started to light the eastern sky I herd the wing beats of the bird as he left his roost. My father grabbed is old worn box call and made a practice sweep with the lid above the call like a golfer's practice stroke and then sent three soft sweet yelps toward the old bird. The gobbler honored his call with a reply.He then made a single cluck and the bird fired right back at us with a double gobble. Dad said it sounded as if the bird was drifting farther down the holler, he made a few more yelps and the bird gobbled back. Daddy said lets go the bird is headed down the holler away from us but I know where he is headed too. We made a big half circle around to the mouth of the holler it opened out on a old cedar glade. There was a small clearing in the middle of the glade my father had me plop down behind a small tree that and fallen over. It was just the right hight to help hide me and made a perfect rest for my little shotgun to lay across. Daddy took up a spot maybe ten feet behind me and sent out a few sweet yelps from his old box call and the gobbler answered right back. I could tell he was close a I herd my father say get ready son. I tightened the grip on my gun and my heart was pounding so hard I was sure the Turkey would hear it. As the old bird stepped into the clearing I watched in amazement. The old fellas beard was so long that on a long stride I was sure he could have stepped on the end of it. I froze as I watched the old ground raker strut in front of me. He broke strut and I could hear my father saying shoot son shoot him. I cut down on him with the little .410 he my have been 15 yards away. It was a clean miss I am not even sure if I had my head down on the gun or not. I watched the bird as he scurried off through the cedars and I knew even as my heart sunk I was hooked for life. As my father consoled me he explained that was part of hunting and there would be many mistakes along the way. My father was a wonderful teacher he showed me lots of things about hunting,fishing, bird dogs and life lessons in general. I lost my hunting partner and hero in the summer of 2007 to a long battle with Lou Gehrig's disease, I miss him greatly.
These Ozark Mountains Ain't High But The Hollers Sure Are Deep