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If my good friend Jim is a patient man today, I would have to give myself credit for most of the transformation. Spending time with me requires the utmost in patience; but no time more so than the numerous hunting trips we shared. On this particular occasion we decided that we wanted to hunt turkeys. As we did with all of our hunting and fishing endeavors, we studied up on the elusive creature. We found out that hunting turkeys was even more tedious than hunting deer, and that not only must you learn to master the “turkey call,” but you also needed something else in great supply; patience. Well, at least I could learn to adequately execute a passable rendition of a turkey.

We went to the sporting goods store and after asking the “experts” working there, we bought two different calling mechanisms; if one didn’t work we could always use the other. One apparatus was the wooden box call. By rubbing two pieces of wood together at just the right tension and angle you could end up with a sound that resembled two pieces of wood rubbing together. At least that’s what we ended up achieving. A professional would end up with a sound that was good enough to fool most normal turkeys. Besides not mastering the box call, I didn’t like it anyway because it required me to lay my gun down and tie up both hands. I wanted to be ready to aim quickly and shoot fast in the event a turkey happened to walk past my hiding place, so we scrapped the box call and decided to put all of our efforts into mastering option number two; the mouth diaphragm.

The mouth diaphragm is a semi-circle shaped device that has a thin layer of material on one end that when the right amount of air flow runs across it resembles the mating call of the wild turkey. The diaphragm is placed in the mouth, on the tongue, and it takes months of practice to become good enough to try using it in the wild. Jim and I would retire to his apartment and lock ourselves away in his bedroom (his wife wasn’t all that fond of the sounds we were making; sort of like the sound your little sister makes when learning the clarinet) where we would endlessly practice the art of clucking like a turkey. A repetitive ‘cluck, cluck, cluck” could be heard on the street below and the neighborhood kids would stop, listen, and laugh as they tried to figure out just what was going on in the second floor bedroom in the apartment above. “How do I sound?” I asked my buddy as spit and slobber dripped down my chin. Jim, always kind, said, “You’re getting better. The occasional screech should go away if you stay on it for a few more months.” When we both felt ready, we headed out to the woods to try our luck.

After painting ourselves with camouflage paint and dressing head to toe in camo outfits, we took our shotguns and walked up a ridge (the area cleared out to run telephone lines) on the side of a hill. After scouting around for turkey sign, I let Jim decide what qualified as sign, we both chose a suitable place to sit; and wait; and wait some more. All the while we waited, we clucked. And clucked. And clucked some more. It was a cold, late fall morning and as the sun began to clear the trees, I was enjoying the warm sunshine on my face. I could hear Jim down the hill a ways and back in the woods out of sight, continue to “call” the heretofore unseen turkeys. By this time I had grown bored, not having received a single response with all of my clucking. Finally, I decided to stand up and take a break, yelling Jim’s direction, “Hey Jim. I haven’t seen a single turkey all morning. How about you?”

All of a sudden I heard a loud whoosh, saw a huge black blur moving in front of me and when I finally realized what had happened, I just stood there with my mouth open and heart pounding; staring down at the ground. The turkey was gone and I hadn’t even raised my gun. By this time Jim had joined me at the top of the ridge. He was agitated, with jaw clenched and a scowl on his face, and through it all, he calmly began to address me. Before he could say anything I blurted out, “Did you see that turkey? Wow, it was huge!” Jim just stared at me, pondering just how to deliver what was on his mind and the tip of his tongue. “Ronnie, yes I saw the turkey. That was the same turkey that I had been calling to me for the past two hours. Didn’t you hear the dialogue going back and forth?” He never raised his voice; to his credit. Not wanting to appear dumb I answered, “Of course I heard the dialogue between you and the turkey. I just thought the turkey you were calling was over on the other ridge. I didn’t know that your turkey was this turkey. I wouldn’t have stood up if I had known that I would be spooking your turkey. I’m sorry.”

That was the end of our turkey hunt. We tried to go back to our original positions and start calling again, but our hearts weren’t in it and our turkeys, by now, had sent smoke signals throughout the neighboring woods, warning all the other turkeys to watch out for the hunter and his inept partner. Jim never invited me turkey hunting again.