Shotgun Wedding

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Published on: Oct. 2, 2001

Last revision: Nov. 9, 2010

Turkey Hunting

I've always considered fall turkey hunting to be on a par with eating bologna on white bread.

Spring gobbler hunting is ham on rye.

Spring turkey hunting in Missouri is a civilized, sophisticated exercise which requires scouting, stealth, calling ability, tactical expertise and the ability to stay awake for more than 30 seconds.

If you do everything right, a 22-pound gobbler with the machismo of an NFL pulling guard will come to the gun, and you can spend the next 11 months boring people with the story.

Fall turkey hunting, as it is recommended by experts, is to find a hen with a bunch of flighty, young-of-the-year turkeys, scare the sauce out of them and then call back a lonesome, virginal hen that might weigh six pounds. It's kind of like Mike Tyson challenging the toughest kid in a day care center.

I had no plans to ever hunt autumnal turkeys. The season comes in the lull between dove and quail season, and you have to take a break from hunting sometime. My wife, Marty, told me so.

Besides, we were deep into wedding plans. Our son Eddie was getting married, and the Vance Back Forty was to be the site.

The young couple planned to convert the basketball court into a fall harvest area and say their vows amid hay bales and corn shocks. It promised to be emotionally moving, tender and a whole lot of work.

I had bought a fall turkey tag when I was buying a deer tag because we'd seen turkeys from time to time all summer, but I doubted I'd use it. Every time I cast a longing glance at my camouflage gear, Marty came up with a nuptial nudge that found me with a broom and dustpan in hand rather than a Model 12.

The turkeys lurked in the back of my mind like an evil impulse. We'd seen the turkeys since the youngsters were fuzzy caricatures of their mother. A couple of aunt hens hung around with the family group. The kids picked up weight all summer eating local bugs, and by fall it was difficult to tell the young ones from the old ones.

I slipped away from the myriad marriage chores for a couple of hours one afternoon because sitting in the October woods is more fun than working. Voices drifted up the ridge, especially that of Marty asking, "Does anyone know where Joel went?" I basked in the afternoon sun

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