Stuffing the Bird
I went turkey hunting for the first time in my life. It was an
absolutely wonderful trip. I was excited and looked forward to the
trip with the anticipation of a kid at Christmas.
My wife, on the other hand, was a bit less enthusiastic than I
was. Last year, I caught a trophy lake trout. She has yet to see
the fish, as it is still at the taxidermist. Nor is she eager to
see the fish. It seems she does not have the same decorating sense
that I have. She's into frilly lace and plush carpets. She even
expects the drapes, carpet and paint to match. Go figure. Needless
to say, she is not excited about the prospect of a large carnivorous
fish carcass hanging on the wall, no matter how pretty it is. In
fact, she is not particularly pleased with the possibility at all.
I love my wife, but some days I just don't understand her at all.
Bearing the above in mind, she wished me a good trip. She doesn't
understand the need to hunt. She doesn't appreciate the pursuit
and all of the excitement it entails. She doesn't empathize with
me on the fun and enjoyment of waking at 3:30 in the morning. Of
sitting in the blind, the early chill of the day soaking into the
depths of your bones, the thrill of hearing the first gobble. She
does not know how all of this comes to together. She does not need
to know how all of these unexplainable nuances coalesce into the
magic, which through transformation, becomes the hunt. It is enough
that she knows that I know it and that it is important to me. She
is a good wife.
Although, she does, from time to time, question my need to rekindle
the fire of my ancestors' requirement to put food on the table.
Now I don't mean to give you the wrong idea. My wife does not consider
wild game to be food. It is many things to her, but it is definitely
not food. In the reality of life, to my wife, wild game is mostly
I left very early that day, and she was still in bed sleeping.
I kissed her goodbye, and as I was leaving, she opened one eye,
and in one of those half-asleep voices mumbled have fun, but you
better not bring anything home to mount.
I had a great time. I hunted with two great guys and a terrific
guide. We booked our hunt with Blue River Whitetails out of Hanover,
Kansas. And if you are considering a Kansas Turkey Hunt, give them
Now I have to confess. I know or knew almost nothing about turkeys.
I mean I knew a few things, like they were big, they were brown.
That Ben Franklin thought they should be our national emblem. That
the Indians gave the Pilgrims turkey for the first Thanksgiving,
that domestic turkeys are so smart they can drown in a rainstorm.
I also knew the domestic turkey is so fat it can't fly and most
importantly to never ever drive by a turkey farm on a hot summer
day. Armed with all of this valuable information, I was off on my
first turkey hunt.
The trip was fantastic. I can't describe the fun and excitement.
Those of you who have sneak hunted a turkey, running and crawling
and sneaking through five miles of cover on an 120 acre field understand
the emotions. For those of you who don't, go turkey hunting.
Dave, my guide, took me on a five-mile forced march through brambles,
woods and places a rabbit couldn't go, and put me on this Rio Grande
Tom. It was great. I waited for the shot. I wanted the shot to be
clear and I did not want to miss. Dave worked so hard to get me
on the bird I didn't want to miss and have him think poorly of me.
Just as Dave was wondering if I would ever shoot, I shot. Down he
. the Tom, not Dave. We ran up to him and he was excited,
Dave not the Tom.
I searched the breadth of my turkey lore and could not for the
life of me understand why he was so excited. Dave, not the Tom.
I mean it was a pretty large bird, the feathers were pretty and
he had fairly large spurs, the Tom, not Dave. Then Dave showed he
had two beards, the Tom, not Dave. This, evidently, is quite rare.
It didn't mean a lot to mean at first. Then Dave said, "this
is worth a mounting, the Tom, not Dave. I said "really"
he said "yes". I did not know what to do. I mean I remember
the admonition given me by my wife. The question was would she remember
words half mumbled through the foggy vail of sleep. Would she? Would
She? Would SHE?
I got home late from the trip and my wife was in bed. She told
me my little one was still awake and would like a kiss good night.
So I took a feather into her room and tickled her nose. She talked
to me and was thrilled I shot a turkey. Probably the only one of
my family who was excited. I kissed her good night and went back
to my wife.
Proudly, and with a bit of fanfare, I, like the Tom, put my fan
on display. I had shot two birds and this fan was from the second.
My wife was like a bred hen, very unimpressed. Undaunted, I answered
her questions about the hunt. This was hard, she only wanted me
to shoot one bird and I was trying to combine the best of both hunts
without letting on I had shot two birds.
I climbed into to bed and I played it cool. Just snuggled. I have
learned, after years of experience, the female of the species likes
just being held and cuddled, the wife not the hen. She was making
the contented purring sound. You know the one. It resonates a sort
of calm satisfaction. It is the sound women make when they are happy
and relaxed. It is the sound we generally run from. It is the sound
that we can not disturb. It is the sound we don't interrupt, because
if we do, we will end up in some sort of trouble.
Anyway, she is making this contented purr when I let her know I
shot a 21+ pound trophy bird. No reaction. She calmly asks, "is
taking up all of the room in the freezer?" I answer, "no,
it's in Jim's freezer, we have a bird in our freezer. I shot two
birds." No fireworks, I may be in the clear.
She is starting to get a little interested. She wants to know why
one bird is in our freezer and one is in Jim's. She asks, "
is it that big that it won't fit in ours?"
Bravely, yet very, very softly, I answer, "well its whole.
It hasn't been cleaned. It's a trophy."
I felt her stiffen, I knew I had played my hand too quickly, I
was afraid I had over called when she calmly said, "If you
stuff a bird, I'm getting a divorce".
I answered, "yeh, and you'll probably want custody of it."
She answered, "yeh and your damn fish too."
I think I'm in business.