Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot

“I’m going to have a turkey for thanksgiving this year,” Barnard, my brother, declared thrusting his chin out.

“Just where will you get the money to buy it?” I challenged. We didn’t raise turkeys and had never in my memory eaten one.

“I don’t have to have money,” he said pointing at his head, “I’ve got a plan.”

Barnard found a willing accomplice in Bruce, our only neighbor. While Barnard fed livestock and milked cows, they discussed whether he could shoot well enough to win a turkey at the Turkey Shoot – that was the first time I’d ever heard that term. I knew their concern was legitimate for Barnard had a lazy eye, causing him to need a spotter for locating game in trees.

For several weeks before the turkey shoot, after chores, Barnard gathered up our squirrel dog – a mutt named Poncho – the twelve gauge and me, and we trundled to the woods for his shooting practice. He only asked me along to spot the squirrels and then help him find them.

I did so love the woods. I skipped, kicking up freshly fallen leaves to enjoy the musty and pungent smells of bay, hickory and sweet gum.

“Stop that,” Barnard scowled. “You’ll scare every squirrel within a mile into its hole.”

“And Poncho,” I pointed at the barking squirrel dog, “won’t do that?”

“It’s not the same.”

Many days when Poncho didn’t tree a squirrel, he’d run back to his old faithful, an enormous sweet gum just below the barn where a colony of squirrels lived and hid in its multiple holes, and start barking like he’d found something.

Other times, Poncho would run eagerly ahead of us and suddenly start barking wildly. When we’d get to him, he’d be jumping up on the tree trunk like he wanted to climb it and grab that squirrel. We knew we had one! That is, if I could find it and point it out to Barnard.

Those nights, supper was gooooo-d. Momma fried the squirrel, made biscuits, brown gravy and coffee so hot we poured it into saucers and blew on it before sipping.

The long prepared-for date finally arrived. Barnard and Bruce left for the turkey shoot in one of Daddy’s logging trucks, also with Daddy’s prized L.C. Smith, double barreled, twelve gauge.

After they left, I worried. At ten, I had no idea how turkey shoots worked. I thought all those men going to line up, find and shoot the same turkey in a tree. Would Bruce be able to spot the bird in the tree and point it out to Barnard?

It also concerned me that even if Barnard got a turkey it would be full of lead and uneatable. I didn’t mention this to anyone fearful it would sound Girlish.

After waiting what seemed like forever, they returned. Barnard had gotten his turkey and to my relief, Tom came home in a crate, alive and gobbling.

He was a beautiful bird and strutted around our yard like he owned it. Neither Daddy, Momma nor Barnard had the heart to kill and eat that turkey.

Tom lived a long and pampered life at our farm, a constant reminder of Barnard’s triumph.

November 22, 2011 · Carolyn · 2 Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: country life, Holidays

2 Responses

  1. Kathleen - December 3, 2011

    Awwww!!! The Turkey lived!! That’s a great story, Mom!! <3

  2. Susan - December 11, 2011

    Don’t think I could eat fried squirrel.

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