Dave's Place: Ten-Speed Turkeys

My sister and I gave a whole new meaning to riding shotgun.

Field & Stream Online Editors

My sister Barb was over for a visit the other day and mentioned that she'd like to go turkey hunting with me this spring. Of course, I said I'd be happy to take her. After all, she was my first turkey hunting partner back when we were teenagers.

Barb, two years younger than me to the day, the youngest of my seven siblings and the baby of the family, always had some interest in hunting, though never any desire to shoot a gun, much less kill anything. She just liked to walk around in the woods, hunting for a glimpse of a wild critter. An animal lover, and curious, she hoped to briefly spy on a squirrel, a grouse, or a bunny as it went about its business in its natural habitat. That I was apt to blast whatever she spied didn't seem to bother her.

In any case, it worked out well for me. She often brought her dog, Charlie. Actually, Charlie belonged to the whole family, but Barb was the only one willing to openly acknowledge ownership of a hyperactive garbage hound, so she was able to claim him without any argument. Barb fancied Charlie a hunting dog. In fact, he was at a complete loss in the woods, ranging far and wide, vainly searching for an empty peanut-butter jar to lick clean or an old margarine wrapper to swallow whole.

Barb, on the other hand, was an excellent partner. Though some of the pointing breeds could perhaps have done a little better, she was a first-rate flusher. She stayed close, worked the cover exactly as I asked, and happily tromped through the thickest thickets to push birds out to me. She flushed the second grouse I ever shot and many others after that.

For turkey hunting, she'd be somewhat less useful, but being a kind brother, I was happy to take her along on my very first hunt for spring gobblers. Also, I was about 16, and having planned to ride my bike to the woods about a mile down the road, I needed someone to carry my shotgun while I pedaled.

And she did. At 4:30 A.M., my 12-gauge single-shot in hand, she gladly hopped up onto the seat of my 10-speed, and we rode double in the pitch dark to the woods. There she sat patiently with me until midmorning as I called, pointlessly. I didn't know it then, but there wasn't a turkey within 5 miles of where we were hunting. It didn't bother her any more than it bothered me. We fooled ourselves into hearing a few distant gobbles, and that was good enough for us.

So naturally, I'm more than happy to take Barb along on a turkey hunt this coming spring. She deserves it. In fact, I'm thrilled she wants to go again after all these years and am ready and willing to accommodate. Also, there's a certain area I'd like to hunt this year that I can only get to on my mountain bike, and I could use someone willing to carry my shotgun and ride double in the dark.