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Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Joy of Turkey Hunting (Blog Eighty-three)

Today, I called in and killed a mature gobbler while afield in Franklin County, Virginia.  For people who don't turkey hunt, they may not know how hard it is to tag a tom.  This was the eleventh time I have been out this spring in Virginia, including many times before I go to teach English, and the first time I actually had a chance to take a gobbler.

Nothing I do in the outdoors has such a low success rate, and nothing compares to that scintillating moment when a mature gobbler is within range and one knows that the hunt will end in an exhilarating fashion or in inglorious misery.

My one-shot kill resulted in a quick and merciful death to the old longbeard, and when I reached him and saw that my prize was secured, I screamed not once, twice, or three times but four.  I thought I was done screaming after the third yell, but one more had to escape.

Later, I went by the landowners and thanked them for letting me hunt.  I am now tagged out in Virginia and will head for West Virginia soon.  Also, I plan on taking several novice turkey hunters here in Virginia.  It is fun to tutor others and not to have to carry a gun.

And today's turkey will soon become grilled breast and the legs will become a delicious soup.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Elaine and Tallulah (Blog Eighty-two)

Elaine has a new best friend, Tallulah, one of our five hens.  Elaine has always enjoyed talking to our chickens since they arrived last May as day-old chicks.  Of course, in the summer we purchased Tallulah, Dot, and Violet from the local Southern States because six of our eight chicks turned out to be cockerels.

The three new girls, as Elaine called them, had a little difficulty being accepted by our resident birds.  But now, I think, Tallulah has become Elaine's favorite chicken.  About a month ago, Tallulah started visiting Elaine when the chickens were let out into our front yard every afternoon to forage.  Little by little, Tallulah became bolder and bolder as she first would feed close to Elaine, then come to her and whine for food, then finally Tallulah began hopping up the steps to stand besides Elaine as she sat on our stoop.

But Tallulah was not done yet with her overtures.  Eventually, she learned to hop up and sit on Elaine's lap and whine for food.  Now, every time Elaine sits on the stoop, Tallulah comes running to Elaine, hops up on her lap, begs for food, and allows Elaine to stroke her chest.

Our alpha hen, Ruby, one of our two original hens, is also our smartest and most athletic hen.  Once Ruby saw that Tallulah was receiving food from Elaine (and all she had to do was sit on my wife's lap), Ruby likewise began sitting on Elaine's lap.  Ruby, though, seems mostly interested in the food, not visiting.  Tallulah seems to actually like to linger awhile with Elaine.

The three other hens, Violet, Dot, and Little Spotty Hen, are below Ruby and Tallulah on the pecking order.  It will be interesting to see if they start the lap sitting gambit.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Opening Day Turkey Hunting Blues (Blog Eighty-one)

Several months ago, I told Elaine that I had a feeling that I would call in and kill a gobbler on opening day of Virginia's turkey season - today.  Whenever I have that particular feeling that I will do well fishing and hunting, it is almost always accurate.  Today, though, it was not.

Not only did I not kill a gobbler today, I was never in the "game" with one.  I heard a few longbeards on the roost, but by 6:30 A.M., the birds were done for the day - and so was I, though I did not know it.

I trekked up and down hillsides on the Franklin County farm I was on, went through a box, slate, and every mouth call I brought with me, peformed my best yelps, clucks, purrs, cutts and even did hen, jenny, and jake kee-kees.  And not one bird responded to me all day.

To strike out is one thing but to go down in the proverbial flames in something else altogether.  The only good thing is that it was only day one of the Virginia season, and I will be back at it on day two behind our Botetourt County home.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

More Fun than a Barrel of Chickens (Blog Eighty)

It is not a news flash that men and women often approach things differently.  And every day in our chicken run Elaine and I are testament to that tendency.

For example, every day we give our five hens and Little Jerry a slice of bread or two, as this is one of our flock's favorite treats.  When it is Elaine's turn to feed our birds, she tears and divides the bread so that each chicken will have a chance to eat a bit or two.  She says this is the polite, civilized way to conduct matters.

I, on the other hand, delight in tossing an entire slice into the run and watching the whole flock compete for the prize.  Invariably, one hen picks up the slice and tries to run away from the other hens to a corner of the run.  Also, invariably, before that first hen reaches a corner, several of the other ladies have swiped bits and pieces from the hen's mouth. Then Little Jerry picks up some sliver of a slice, gives the food cluck, and expects the hens to come to him for their reward - which they do not do.

The result is mass chaos, hens chasing each other all over the run, Little Jerry giving off non-stop food clucks with no hen paying any attention to him.  And me? I am doubled over with laughter at the Keystone Cops hilarity of the entire affair.  Meanwhile, Elaine is reprimanding me for my actions.