DIFATTA: Battling the elements for a bird

By PHIL DIFATTA,

I was on my first solo turkey hunt in Greene County, near Leakesville, and I had a gobbler coming to my calls. The bird hadn't quite made it to where I sat adjacent a food plot when the weather turned on me.

It first clouded up and began to rain. The rain turned into hail, and when I thought things couldn't get worse, they did! The breeze bloomed into gale force winds and tree limbs began to snap. Worse, whole trees followed suit. Still, there I sat, hoping and praying the turkey would get to me before a lightning strike burned me to a crisp. After all, I was the only idiot around holding a lightning rod in his hands (my gun).

To make a boringly-long story short, I waited out the bird and eventually nailed him, even though the shot was questionably long. I quickly jumped up and started to run to him when a lightning strike less than a hundred yards away changed my mind. I did an about-face and sprinted to my truck (back when I could run, and thankfully so).

The wind shook my truck like it was a toy, and I can't tell you how deafening the hail pounding on my pickup and aluminum camper shell was. What I can tell you is that when I returned to retrieve my bird, I could not find him, I honestly could not at first. The hail had literally covered a full grown turkey with ice, although I will admit that he was laying in a furrow covered with ice when I finally stumbled over him.

That, my friends (both of you) is the true tale of my first turkey, with little of my normal embellishment. It happened nearly 40 years ago, and I only wish I could locate the column I wrote and the pictures I took back then. One of my photos even got picked up by the Associated Press, and I was told I'd be paid for it, and I was ecstatic about that … until I got that “whopping” $10 check.

You see, in all honesty, at the time I didn't realize I had gone through a major tornado until I drove through Leakesville on my way back to Hattiesburg. Leakesville was pretty much torn up, and only then did I realize what some turkey hunters like me will endure to get his or her bird.

In fact, just this past week, I endured the darnedest brier thicket in south Mississippi to reach an opening to call in a gobbler. But I got my bird, and that was what mattered. Never mind that briers had bloodied my hands, face, and had ripped my camo clothing to shreds.

What's even better is that when I got back to the ol' huntin' shack, I got a picture text from my son, Daniel, with a nice bird he had just taken in Lamar County. I plopped my big Covington County bird down, took a picture and sent it to him, and we agreed to meet up and take pictures together. As we took those pictures, I couldn't help but recall the times I took Daniel as a kid and taught him all that I know. Now he kills three turkeys to my one, but I don't care. In fact, I'm happy for him and quite proud. It's a great feeling knowing that I played a part in it. 

If you want to experience that feeling, take a kid huntin' or fishin' … every time you can. You'll have lots of tales to tell, and perhaps meat for the table. But, more importantly, you'll get that warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

PineBelt News outdoor writer Phil DiFatta may be reached for comment, story ideas and photos by emailing pdifatta@hotmail.com. Readers may also text photos, with contact info, to 601-596-4475.