|Returned to Iron County Missouri this spring, I was on a scouting and listening mission for gobblers on Johnson Mountain. That particular part of the Missouri Ozarks is where I hunted turkeys as a boy with my dad on my Grandpa’s farm.
I arrived about an hour before daylight, unloaded my Bad Boy and drove to the top. It was a beautiful morning, cool and crisp with an awesome sunrise. The only disappointment, there is definitely not near the number of turkeys that used to inhabit these hills.
At first light I heard only one gobbler on the north slide of the mountain, down close to the old school house. I moved in, set up and videotaped the gobbler on the roost and his fly down. He gobbled a lot from the roost, without a single reply from another gobbler in any direction.
I was driving and field testing my Bad Boy Buggy, drove right to the gobbling turkey while reading my Garmin GPS unit.
It seemed kind of strange to look at my progress driving down the logging road on the GPS screen. I was reading a map and terrain features that used to only exist inside my head when hunting this place.
On the way back to the top, which I might say, took hours of climbing and a ton of heavy breathing years earlier without a bad Boy. I had to laugh at myself; here I am zooming up the MT on an all-electric 4-wheel drive, wearing Real tree camo, reading a GPS. unit.
I have with me a video camera, microphone, tripod and a digital camera. In my five hundred-pocket turkey vest, I have at least a dozen mouth calls, two slates, two box calls, gloves, head net, food, and drinks. On my feet, Cabela’s boots complete the wardrobe.
While standing in the early morning light waiting for the mountain to wake up, I was thinking. In the late 1960’s early 1970’s whilst turkey hunting here, I wore old faded bib overalls and a blue jean jumper jacket, it was all I had, there were no “camo companies.” I carried 3 green Remington paper shells in my pocket, if I got a turkey, next year I would have two.
There was always a can of Copenhagen in my front pocket; I called turkeys with my voice. I hunted with my Grandpas gun or my dads old browning. The only other item I had in my pocket was a carefully newspaper wrapped jelly biscuit my grandma slipped into my jacket pocket.
After the morning scouting foray, I drove down to the little town of Belgrade for breakfast. This is where my grandparents lived after leaving the farm. I found out that the old café is now long gone, but the new café did not look too bad.
As soon as I entered to café, I met a couple of “Eyes” second or third cousins I think, not sure. As usual, there was also a table full of “Old timers” solving the world’s problems.
I ordered breakfast, the waitress brought my coffee just as this guy comes in with a “Boone and crocket” mullet hair cut. He looks at me and say’s
“ Were they a hollering this morn’in” he had 3 or 4 teeth, maybe, hard to tell with that dog turd size plug of tobacco in is head.
Just about that time, every one of the old guys, mullet boy and my “Cousins” started really giving me crap about being a has been, old, need to go to pasture. Then one of them asks me if I came up dry this morning.
Across the café, setting on the counter is the river hills traveler. There is a picture of Bill Cooper on the cover from my LLF media hunt last year. Across the bottom of the front page it says, “ Ray Eye comes up dry”
Billy will get his just reward for putting me in every café, gas station, check tation, sporting goods store in Missouri as a guy that just can’t cut the mustard anymore, while he calls and kills on camera every turkey he faces.
Everyone be careful turkey hunting this spring, have a great turkey season, until next time.