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A Turkey for Jerry

Published on: Mar. 18, 2014

statement than a question, and mere formality. I could tell I was committed.

I told her that I would just have to clear it with my friend Bob who owned the 80-acre “gentleman’s farm” where I hunted, but all I could think was, with a record like mine, I had no place teaching someone else to hunt.

Nothing to Lose

A few days later, I saw Bob, the landowner, and asked him if Jerry could hunt with me on his farm. Bob enthusiastically agreed, he probably assumed the wild turkeys on his farm were just as safe with the two of us hunting as they were with me alone, anyway. He knew that I hadn’t fired a shot in my past three years hunting on his farm. For Jerry’s sake, I hoped to prove him wrong this time.

Jerry, the rookie turkey hunter, is an amazing guy, and I didn’t want to let him down. A military veteran and, more recently, a colon-cancer survivor, he has endured some hard times. Yet Jerry and Kathy always had smiles on their faces and words of encouragement for everyone else. They remained active in their church and community and supported others despite their own difficulties. I wanted to give a little something back to them.

Like a Kid at Christmas

Every time I saw Jerry after I told him we were going to hunt together, he was like a kid who couldn’t wait for Christmas morning. He was excited to be going on his first turkey hunt and to be carrying his beautiful old, hand-engraved Ithaca shotgun; it was a family heirloom they had sold during his illness. His wife had bought it back as a surprise gift for him.

His excitement began to have a draining effect on me. I was getting worried about how Jerry would feel if we didn’t even see a turkey, let alone bag one. It was a lot of responsibility.

As spring drew nearer, I took every opportunity to try to keep Jerry’s optimism in check. I told him about my record with turkeys, and that he shouldn’t expect too much. I told him we would enjoy some beautiful spring mornings. I told him we’d see some deer and plenty of other wildlife. I told him it would be great just to be out there.

Regardless of what I said, it was like Jerry hadn’t heard a

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