Family Stories – More

Below, we pick up Howard Bryan’s tale of another turkey that succumbed to his muzzle loader. At the time of this story, Howard still lived on his farm in Appomattox County, Virginia.

“Turkey Stories
By Howard Bryan

A few years later I was headed to the back of our farm, hoping to get some tender venison for the freezer. Again I was carrying the flintlock. As I approached the edge of the mature oak woods that covered the Western part of the farm a flock of turkeys flushed, and flew to the West.

I thought that they would fly across the creek bottom behind the ridge where I flushed them and that they would go to the next ridge over, so I ran as quickly as possible to the Northern edge of that ridge. I had no sooner settled between a large oak and some thin cedar scrub when I heard the turkeys talking to each other. I did have time to get rid of the bright orange scarf I wear when moving about during hunting season before a doe and a young, slightly spotted fawn approached in company with the leading turkeys.

Now turkeys, with their keen eyesight and sensitivity to color; and deer, with their keen sense of smell and their acute hearing; are a bad combination for a hunter. Either will give an alarm, and everything close around the alerted animal will flee. Fortunately the slight breeze was in my face, and I had not walked into the area where the deer were moving, so scent was not a problem.

As I raised the rifle barrel the lead turkeys veered slightly away, just over the ridge, so all I could see were bobbing heads. The doe and her fawn saw the movement and froze. None of them spooked. The decision was, doe or turkey, since both were in season then.

I decided on the turkey, since I would have to shift about 30 deg. left to cover the deer, which was already alert. Sure enough, one turkey’s head and neck bobbed right into the line of the barrel. I aimed and shot, breaking the turkey’s neck. The distance wasn’t great, about 35 yards, but it was one of the most difficult shots I ever made; one that my wife still calls the luckiest shot she ever heard of. It’s difficult to impress some women!”