Like Son, Like Father

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Published on: Mar. 2, 2003

Fathers and sons compete from the day the son thinks, "I can whup him!" My son, Andy, and I never have come to blows, but we've had our share of basketball and one-on-one fishing skirmishes.

When it comes to hunting, though, Andy and I haven't been so competitive. Maybe that's because I've gone out of my way to help make sure he has a good hunt.

For example, on opening day last year, I bequeathed our 40 acres to him, a magnanimous gesture that should have had him in tears. True, I had a better place lined up--400 acres of prime turkey woods--but I was sharing, and that's a good thing when it comes to your children.

Of course, Andy would have to call a bird off the neighbor's land because we had not heard any in our woods. He went to the fence the night before opening day and yelped into the twilight, hoping a gobbler would trot across the pastures to roost in our woods.The next morning, I arrived early at my 400-acre paradise and settled in next to a tree that has spent 75 years growing knobs just to jab me in the back. My decoys, several years old now, looked fit for a Salvation Army clearance sale.

It was opening morning, though, and I optimistically waited for the morning rush hour traffic of turkeys, that thundering herd of 22-pound gobblers that will race to my call, crazed with lust, fighting and jostling for the chance to stand in front of my gun. I wore myself out thinking about it and quickly fell asleep.

I jerked awake, thinking I'd heard the first gobble of the morning, but it was only a truck downshifting on the distant four-lane. I yawned, slurped the mouth call into position, fought down my rising gorge, then lofted a mating call into the gathering light. It was so seductive that I pictured gobblers fainting off the roost, overcome by slobbering passion.

In response, a cardinal called, another truck downshifted, and two crows that roost in a tree at the other end of the field sniggered.

A bit later, the largest gobbler I've ever seen stood in front of me. I raised the gun and it turned toward me and became a fearsome dragon, breathing fire and snarling like a thousand tigers. I jerked awake, my heart thumping.

Otherwise, the morning was peaceful, calm, quiet. Deadly quiet, I thought. I heard a mounting

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