During a family conversation over homemade vegetable soup and hoecake cornbread, it was announced by our parents that we were hosting a large gathering of relatives and friends at our home in Richland, during the upcoming Thanksgiving holidays. The proposed menu featured the traditional southern-style turkey with cornbread dressing, plenty of vegetables, and a virtual plethora of desserts.
When the subject of purchasing the poultry surfaced, Daddy announced that this year, he planned to win it at a turkey shoot. A turkey shoot, I thought, that sounds like an interesting way to spend a morning; since David was probably considered too young to go, perhaps I could tag along.
For a third grade student, the thought of hunting a turkey sounded exciting, and when daddy agreed to let me go, I began to imagine the thrill that waited. On the eve of the great hunt, when I inquired about what I should wear, he answered that my regular school clothes were just fine. Now you have to understand that Stewart County, Georgia is smack-dab in the middle of prime hunting country, and I had frequently observed some of the curious looking clothes worn by the visiting hunters, so I wondered why we were not getting dressed-up for the experience.
On the day of the memorable occasion, we rode out the two-lane road toward Preston, and turned onto the dirt lane that led down a steep incline, to the local ball field. There were countless people roaming about; gathering I guessed, and waiting to track a turkey.
I stood quietly while daddy retrieved his shotgun from the trunk of the car, checked the chamber, engaged the safety, and called out, let's go. I followed him to a long table, where he paid a fee, and began talking to several gentlemen who were also standing in line. They remarked about the pleasant fall weather and talked at length about the coming holiday.
At the appointed time, Daddy and the other men walked up to a chalk line, readied their firearms, and aimed at a paper target. It took only a few rounds of firing before daddy announced loudly, that he had bagged a turkey. There was some applause, followed by remarks about his reputation for being an ace in the Air Force, and we walked away with carrying a small slip of paper.
When we entered our house he handed Mamma a slip of paper, kissed her on the cheek, saying she could pick up the turkey at the grocery store, the next day.
Needless to say, my day of turkey hunting is remembered as a one huge disappointment; during the entire adventure, I never saw one single turkey. My vision of spying a gigantic gobbler lurking in the woods, bagging it, and bringing it home for Thanksgiving dinner was far from what really happened.
Turkey shoot, turkey shoot. Bam-bam-bam. Happy Thanksgiving, gobble, gobble, gobble!