But Dad was a turkey hunter long before turkey hunting was popular. He learned his skills hunting on Horn Mountain with the Horns themselves. That area is legend among turkey hunters. Some used to travel hours just so they could claim to have hunted there. When dad would talk about growing up at the foot of Horn Mountain and learning to hunt there, other hunters were instantly impressed.
Back in those pre-boom days people who didn't hunt turkey looked on turkey hunters as an oddity – they were obviously strange people but one had to give them grudging respect. Dad could call in a gobbler using honeysuckle leaves, cane straws, a contraption made from a non-childproof prescription bottle, slate strikers, crow calls, and his own natural imitation of a an owl hoot. In those days, calling turkeys was something of a black art that only a very few people had mastered. In a way, turkey hunters were in the same class as water-witchers – people didn't understand how it was done but they couldn't argue with results. Smoked wild turkey was the result and we enjoyed it often.
Because there were so few turkey hunters in those days we didn't worry about other hunters. Now and then we would hear a turkey sound in the distance and dad would say, “That's another hunter.” and we would move on to another place. But those times were rare.
Consequently, it was a bit of a surprise when I made a new friend and found out that his dad was also a turkey hunter. When I met Danny Posey's dad he didn't seem very friendly at first. But when I let it drop that my dad hunted turkey he suddenly became very friendly. He started out by letting me know that he was a preacher at Blue Springs Church of God. I didn't know it at the time but now I know that he said that to put me at ease. I was just 10 and at the time I didn't realize that I was being pumped for information, I just thought he was being friendly.
When I told dad about my new friend and my conversation with Rev. Posey about turkey hunting, dad raised his eyebrows and said, “Come over here and sit down for a minute.” For the next half-hour I got my first coaching session on how to talk to other turkey hunters. The next time I saw Danny's dad I was prepared. The conversation went something like this.
“Hi, Rev. Posey.”
“Hello, son. How's your dad, has he been hunting lately?”
“Yessir. He took a week off from work to go hunting and got two gobblers.”
“Where was he hunting?”
“In the woods.”
“Of course in the woods son. Whereabouts?”
I turned in a circle with my finger pointing off in the distance, pausing a couple of times to think. After a couple of circles I stopped and said, “That way... I think.”
Not dissuaded, Rev. Posey asked, “That's down toward Coagie. Were you down by the lake?”
I vigorously nodded my head and said, “Yessir we went fishing there last summer.”
Beginning to get frustrated, the good Reverend said, “No, son. Not last summer, last week when your daddy was hunting.”
“Oh. We were just on the other side of that new bridge across the Socopatoy creek.”
“That's not in Coagi.”
“That's not anywhere around here.”
The Reverend stared at me for a moment and then asked, “Did you tell your dad that I was asking you about turkey hunting?”
At this point, Reverend Posey nodded his head and walked away.