Turkey platters abound on the top shelf in my kitchen. There are all kinds: tin, white glass, clear glass, colored china and thick plastic. Some may be alike, but most have different scenes with a large, colorful turkey in the center. I think I have at least 30. I just cannot help myself when I see a pretty one that is cheap and colorful.
My grandchildren pick out which ones they want to inherit each Thanksgiving while waiting for dinner. A tom turkey, with his tail feathers spread out, is a beautiful sight to me, and I could never kill one.
But Daddy used to kill wild turkeys each year in turkey season until I was 10 years old. I don’t recall him finding one after that.
He had a turkey caller that was a little box with a piece of chalk and maybe a piece of wood with it. He kept it on the rafter over the door and dared us to mess with it. But we occasionally did while he was at work. We loved to make the sound of a turkey.
My son, David, used to practice gobbling and using a turkey caller. His little girl, Jerilyn, gobbled in a beauty pageant. Her little sister, Maegan, while still in diapers and sitting at our supper table one night, let out a big gobble that almost knocked us off our chairs. She could hardly talk at the time, but it was perfect.
Turkey season begins in the latter part of March in Georgia, and I think one is allowed to kill three turkeys. According to the Department of Natural Resources, there are about 335,000 turkeys in our state.
John Toby Woods of Colonels Island sent me a copy of an article that appeared in the Sandersville Herald in Emanuel County on Friday, April 30, 1875. It is about his great-grandfather, Nathaniel Youmans, going wild-turkey hunting with two of his best friends March 26, 1875. Thanks, John, for sharing this, and may it be a reminder for hunters to always practice safety.
“Fatal Accident — On the morning of the 26th of March, 1875, a fatal and very sad accident occurred near Moor’s Ferry on the Ohoopee River in Emanuel County. On the morning in question, Messrs. M. C. Coleman, 35, and Nathaniel Youmans, 24, went turkey hunting together. After reaching the hunting ground, they separated, entering a hammock in the swamp and each going in a different direction. Soon after they were separated, Youmans was joined by S.E. Brinson. As is the habit with hunters of this game, Coleman and Youmans commenced yelping to a turkey they heard gobbling in the hammock for the purpose of decoying the turkey within gunshot. Coleman thought that Youmans was yelping so loud that the turkey would discover the decoy and make off. Coleman concluded that he would go to Youmans and tell him what his fears were and for that purpose started. So quiet had Coleman been that Youmans did not know that Coleman was near him.
“Coleman started through the hammock, making his way as quietly as possible through the thick undergrowth. Youmans and Brinson, hearing something coming stealthily through the bushes, supposed it was the turkey and crouched behind a tree for a shot. Youmans finally saw the bushes moving and fired at the spot. He immediately sprang up and rushed forward to find the turkey. His feelings can better be imagined than described when, on reaching the spot, he saw Coleman and heard him exclaim in agony, ‘Thaniel, why did you shoot me?’
“‘Lord, Almighty, Mac, have I shot you?’ was all he could say. Coleman was standing holding onto a tree with his guns still in his arms.
“Brinson had followed close on the heels of Youmans. The wounded man asked them to lay him down, which they did. Brinson ran off to the river, filled his hat with water, brought and bathed Coleman’s face and gave him some to drink. The gun used was an Army musket heavily loaded with buckshot, five of which took effect on Coleman’s person. He was wounded in the arm, hand, thigh and groin. One shot had severed the neck of his bladder. The friends carried their wounded companion out of the hammock to where a vehicle could get to him. Brinson went for assistance and a buggy, and they carried Coleman to Brinson’s home.
“A physician was sent for speedily as possible, but his skill — or that of the world — could avail nothing. He lived until 3 p.m. of the 28th when death relieved him of his sufferings.
“No blame can be attached to anyone. The occurrence was purely accidental and all the parties were warm, personal friends. The deceased was a gallant soldier during the late war (Civil War), a member of Company H, 48th Georgia Regiment, and received three wounds while gallantly fighting for Southern liberty. He was a worthy member of Antioch Primitive Baptist Church and, in a dying hour, expressed himself as prepared to meet his Savior in glory. The only regret he had in dying was leaving of his wife and children.
“All of the above facts were given by Mr. S. E. Brinson in person. The bereaved family have our profound sympathies.”