I was home in Letcher County for the 50th wedding anniversary celebration of Raymond “Pap” and Mrs. Brown. It was a great event, put on by their daughter, Connie Sturgill, and son Dale.
I was proud to be at the event. I was concerned to see my lifelong friend Jerry Barker walking on a cane, but he assured me it was only an aid to steady him. As I mingled through the crowd and spoke to friend after friend, everyone told me how much they enjoy Struttin’ Time.
My friend Ked Sanders told me that is how he keeps up with me now. Ked, being from McRoberts, where I was born and raised, has been my friend all of my life. Thanks to every one of you, for not only reading our crazy adventures, but for putting up with me.
Now on to the “Adventures of Carl.”
We left Kansas, Carl with both of his tags filled (although one was a Jake) and me having killed my first turkeys of the year, two nice three-year-olds. We had not been on the road an hour before the wind and rain started. In Nebraska, that means look out.
We pulled into the lodge at around five and met with two hunting friends of mine who were hunting with Trevor Closman, who would be our host for the next two days.
The friends are Rhett Rossi, a retired EPA director, and Jamie Hodge, who still works for the EPA. I have hunted many years out west with them, although they are from Chicago. Carl and I were assigned Tom King, who would guide us on our hunt. Tom and I have a big thing in common — we both have hunted with Julie Kluger of television fame.
Although the weather was rainy and cold, with about a 40- mile an hour wind, we went out scouting. It didn’t take long to see tons of turkeys, with some Merriam in the flocks.
Nebraska is known for its hybrid turkeys, but they are fun to hunt. I had hopes of Carl and myself killing Merriam’s — Carl to make up for the Jake he killed in Wyoming and to bring me one step closer to another “Slam.”
We got out game plan together for the next morning. Blinds would be the only way to hunt. The rain, cold and wind put a stop on run and gun. At daylight, I heard turkeys everywhere. Carl had gone with Tom and I was by myself. I called in three long beards, but two of them were right in behind me with a cedar tree blocking any shot. The third, a hybrid like the other two, stood about 25 yards to my right. I had a clear shot, and as soon as my trusty 9200 Mossberg coughed he went down like a ton of rock.
I was hoping the other two would walk out into the open, but that never happened. I was already frozen to death and soaked to the bone, but I had to hold on until the guide and Carl did something. That didn’t take long with all the turkeys around. I heard Carl shoot, with no thought that he might have killed a Jake. I looked at my watch. It was a few minutes after eight when I saw Tom and Carl walking through the pasture. Carl was carrying — you guessed it — a Jake. I never said anything, but Carl said, “he told me it was OK to shoot him.”
I was hoping to finish our hunt that evening, but the weather was so bad that didn’t happen. Although I saw a ton of turkeys, I knew this hunt would go on for another day.
Next week we will finish up on our western hunt and let you find out what happens to Carl.