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I'm Too Smart for Them

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Published on: Apr. 2, 1996

Last revision: Oct. 21, 2010

other to get in front of their guns.

I've seen hunters wandering the woods wearing bright blue overalls, carrying immense box calls which made the sounds of a chicken in the clutches of a fox. These same hunters later checked in gobblers and drove me mad with their stupid stories: "I allus heard them turkeys was hard to kill, but, shoot fire, this ol' boy come right on in when I fell over the fence and dropped the call and it made this funny sound."

Four-year-old children have called in and killed more turkeys than I have. People choking on their mouth callers bring birds at the run while I sit on the next ridgetop lofting fluted mating calls into the empty dawn and listen to the distant thunder of other people's guns.

The only possible explanation is that turkeys are such poor judges of good hunting techniques that they don't appreciate me. They sit on their roost limbs, thinking turkey thoughts: What's that bright light yonder? Reckon it's that sun thing like yesterday, or last.

I'd be hundred yards away, pouring my soul into that mouth caller, promising the gobbler palaces on the Riviera, bank vaults full of acorns, undying devotion and passion.

Meanwhile, Ethel and Agnes, the two hens next tree over start talking: "I have a headache. I've got to darn my socks. I wish I wasn't so ugly." And the gobbler falls all over himself, slobbering and panting, eager to molest them.

You ask him, "But what about the palaces, the acorns, the love?"

And he looks stupidly at you and says, "Say what?"

I use three calls like I would use the three shells in my shotgun if I had something to shoot at. There is my yelp, a Pavarottilike note that should have gobblers running toward me, tears streaming down their wattled cheeks.

My cluck is the stuff of daytime soap opera, brimming with raw emotion. And the cackle ... well, you just can't describe it in a family publication.

Once I was at a calling contest which featured the ultimate judge: a wild gobbler in a cage at the back of the hall. The gobbler paid no attention to the sweating, red-faced contestants, who hunched over their mouth callers like Louis Armstrong reaching for an F-sharp. But the bird perked right up every time the beer tap hissed.

It should have been a revelation for me. Turkeys don't care about quality. The only good

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