What is a Turkey Shoot?
During a family conversation over homemade vegetable soup and hoecakes, it was
announced that we were hosting a large gathering of relatives and friends at our
home, 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; 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 tag along, I began to imagine the thrill that
awaited. 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.
Stewart County, Georgia is smack-dab in the middle of prime hunting country, and
I had seen some of the curious looking clothes worn by the visiting hunters, so
I wondered why we weren't going to get 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, waiting to pursue 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 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,