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Stalking the Thunder chicken

By Pastor Tom Anderson

I stood in the dark for minutes waiting for my eyes to adjust. The light to guide me through the woods came from Orion, the Pleiades and Venus. It was barely enough. Plodding awkwardly up the slope, I gained the ridge. It was a wild turkey’s dream— open woodland of mature oaks and maples. There’s lots of food, great sight lines and easy escape routes.

I found what I was looking for—a quartet of tree trunks. I took my seat within the enclosure. This was the place to see a bird without being seen. The smell of damp earth was redolent. An infernal cloud of mosquitoes whined for my hidden flesh. Slathered with repellant, I paid them no mind. Deer snorted from the darkness. The world lay in deep shadow.

Slowly the scene was revealed in the advancing dawn. Fallen logs and broken branches came into focus. Geese croaked. Wood ducks called. The ubiquitous Sandhills gave their always astonishing prehistoric squalls. But I was listening for yelps and gobbles. There were none.

A brand new “Ninja-Ghost” turkey call lay pressed against my palate. I was poised to answer any yelp that might signal the gathering of the flock. I imagined they must be descending from their nighttime roosts. Yet there was only silence. Forty-five minutes into morning daylight, I couldn’t hold it anymore. I yelped like a lost hen looking for the rest of the gang. That did it!

A gobble broke from my right and more yelping from my left. The birds were here! They were close. Now was the time to shut up. I flipped off the safety. I took my shooting posture and froze. More yelping. My silence enflamed their curiosity. They were coming to look for me. Heart pounding. Labored breath. I found it hard to sit still.

I see him! Thirty paces away he peered over a log, eyes searching. He stuck his long neck straight out in front of himself like some hood ornament from the ‘50’s. Now was the time. I drew a bead. A twelve gauge is a loud, high-recoil tool. There is a moment when the trigger is pulled when you can’t see or hear anything. You just hang on until it's over. That moment passed.

He was on the ground! The hunt ended in victory. A dozen turkeys erupted from a tree down the slope. Their morning assembly was rudely interrupted. They shrieked chastisements at me as they fled from the scene. I paid them no mind—we’re having turkey soup.

One night in the desert, the LORD God dropped enough quail upon Israel to feed the entire nation. But today He had graced me with just one bird complete with beard and spurs. In either case, it is the Lord who provides. How does wild turkey taste? I find that they taste like starlit dawns, dropping acorns and cool morning air. It’s a recipe that never gets old.


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