The Prayer that a Country Boy Prays

The Prayer that a Country Boy Prays

A huntin’, fishin’, and lovin’ every day
That’s the prayer that a country boy prays
– Luke Bryan

Calling turkeys is an art form.  It’s an act that requires practice and patience; it also helps if you date as a teenager. I won’t comment on my stepson Cody Fredericks’ dating practices; I can tell you though that he has perfected the art of calling these fowel with a friction caller. A caller looks like a coaster with a blunt screwdriver. The hunter scratches on the coaster, resulting in a sound like a hen calling a Tom. It’s a little like running fingernails over a chalkboard, only sexier for a wild male turkey.

I first became familiar with this when I was trying to sleep one early March night. I heard ‘Ur. Ur. Ur. Urrrr.’ just outside my bedroom door.  I attempted to resume my slumber. Ur. Ur. Ur. Ur. Urrrrrrrrr. Getting up to check on the sound, I opened the door just to see Cody duck – er, turkey – around a corner in haste, chortling at my furrowed brow. That was my introduction to a turkey call, irritating to humans but tantalizing to Toms.

I thought about this while viewing the three birds 60 yards outside of the hunting blind Fredericks and I occupied. We no sooner sat down at 5:30 AM then three large butterballs flew down from where they were roosting. Fredericks told me I had to be quiet. The thing is that I believed I had to be as quiet as I was during deer season; it turns out, that a person has to be even quieter. Fredericks told me they were too far away for a shot; I reasoned it was so with me, so we went home with no shots fired.

On our second excursion, we were walking in Thule’s Timber to try our luck from tall grass. This time, we heard the gobble of the turkey before we saw them; Fredericks turned, finger over his mouth with the universal sign for ‘Don’t make a sound!’

*SNAP* I promptly stepped on a dry twig. Fredericks hadn’t given me a look like that since I last asked him to pick up shotgun shells from his bedroom floor. *SNAP* – my other foot replied, perfectly trouncing on a dryer, larger twig. It’s called Thule’s Timber for a reason.

If that isn’t enough of an excuse, I was dressed in a 20 lb. Ghillie suit, handmade by my friend Kurt ‘Newt’ Rehse. Rehse ran burlap through five different colors of camouflage dye to create a suit that fades into a forest. Newt is a seasoned hunter who, knowing I could use all the help I could get, lent me the Ghillie. “These were first used in Scotland for authorities to wear to catch poachers,” said Rehse. “You need to be perfectly hidden and no sudden movements to get your bird. Turkeys have phenomenal eyesight.” This was not terrific news for a 51-year-old whose eyesight and hearing diminishes with each passing year.

So I sat in the tall grass on our second attempt while Fredericks went out scouting. When he returned from scouting, he couldn’t locate me in the prairie and passed me up. I was smug in my ability to fade into the scenery until it occurred to me that he was just trying to lose me. Nonetheless, I caught up to him even with the weight of the suit and the burlap strands obscuring my vision; you can’t lose me that easily – just ask my wife.

We settled into another patch of forest. Ur. Ur. Ur. Ur. scratched Fredericks on the turkey call. He told me this was like girls texting ‘What’s up?’ to a boy they liked. “It’s just to get their attention,” said Fredericks. “Urrrrrrrrr – with a long scratch – is saying, ‘Hey, do you want to go out for supper… maybe catch a movie.” So it’s no wonder while hearing Ur. Ur. Ur. Uhrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Ur. Ur. Ur. Uhrrrrrrrrr.  Urrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, I was thinking that Fredericks’ faux hen sounded hard-up, left without her dance card punched, and afraid of becoming an old maid. Yes, we were skunked for the second and last time we ventured out together.

We rode home in Frederick’s Chevy S-10, listening to a Luke Bryan song. We were both light-hearted for hunters who didn’t get a deer or a turkey this past year. For Fredericks, it was another opportunity to go hunting before heading to Marine basic training in July. As for me, it was the realization of how I have become accustomed to muddy boots in the foyer, a muzzleloader without a ramrod, fishing poles scattered about the garage, and bow and arrows in his closet.

Fredericks will most certainly be a changed man when we see him at his October graduation. He will be faster, stronger, smarter, and fit to meet the rigors required of a US Marine.  I am proud of who he is and what he will become. There is a part of me, however, that hopes he remembers how to turkey call just outside my bedroom door.

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