2012-11-22 / Columns

Life & Times

Talking turkey, or how Momma Dodd answered a prayer
by Rusty Mitchum • Outdoors, Texas Style

I don’t know about y’all, but I’m ready for some turkey. Man oh man, turkey, dressin’, giblet gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, and chocolate pie, yummm, yum.

I can’t wait. It really brings back the memories, too.

I guess the memory I remember the most, is when my cousin Coy and I were gonna supply the turkey for Thanksgivin’ back when we were little bitty kids.

My momma and Coy’s daddy were brother and sister, and their parents, my grandparents, had a farm down in Bunkum, Texas.

Since the farm wasn’t but 15 or 20 miles from where we lived, Coy and I would spend nearly every weekend there. My granddad, Daddy Dodd, and his wife, Momma Dodd, had every kind of farm animal you could think of. All of them except the chickens were pinned up.

The chickens roamed free and kept the yard free of bugs, worms, and most of the grass.

There was also, roamin’ in amongst the chickens, one great big white turkey. That turkey chased me every time I walked out in the yard. I hated that turkey.

Now my momma always told me that I wasn’t supposed to hate anything, and I tried not to. But that turkey, and later algebra, really tested me. That turkey was the meanest bird in the world.

Anywho, it was a couple of days before Thanksgivin’, and Coy and I were sittin’ out in the yard with our backs leaned up against Daddy Dodd’s one-eyed dog Chief. Chief was a Great Dane. He was the smartest dog in the world. He was also our first horse. He could carry both Coy and me on his back and I think he enjoyed it better than we did.

We were pickin’ up little rocks and throwin’ them, tryin’ to figure out somethin’ to do.

“You wanna go play in the barn?” Coy asked.

“Not really,” I replied.

“What do you wanna do, then?”

“I tell you what I’d really like to do.”

“What?”

“I’d like to wring that turkey right there’s neck,” I said.

“Why don’t you?” came a voice from behind us. We sat up, turned, and there on the porch was Daddy Dodd.

“Sir?” I said.

“Why don’t you wring that turkey’s neck and we’ll have him for Thanksgivin’.”

“Really? You mean it?”

“Sure. That is, if you and Coy think you’re up to it.”

Well, we jumped up. “Yes Sir!” we said.

“Good. Y’all go ahead and I’ll sit up here and me and ol’ Chief’ll watch y’all.”

Man. This was a dream come true. And it was all legal and everything.

“How we gonna do this?” Coy asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “That turkey’s bigger than both of us put together.”

“We can tackle him,” Coy said.

“I know,” I said, and I reached to my back pocket and pulled out my slingshot. “I’ll shoot him with this.”

“Rusty, I’ve seen you shoot that thing before. You ain’t never hit nothin’ with it.”

“Yeah, well I ain’t never really tried. Plus, I don’t think even I can miss somethin’ as big as that stupid turkey.”

“You think it’s big enough to bring him down?”

“Heck, Davy brought Goliath down with one, didn’t he?”

“Yeah, but he had the Lord on his side.”

“Quit preachin’ and help me find a rock.”

We looked around to see if we could find a nice round rock to fit in the pouch of my slingshot. My dad had made the sling shot for me out of a limb off an old dead cedar tree.

He had found a great big rubber band that he cut in two to attach to the limb, and then cut the pouch from the tongue of one of his old boots. Man it was a beaut.

“How about this one?” asked Coy, as he held up a rock about the size of a shooter marble.

“Ooooo, that looks like a good one,” I replied.

I placed the rock in the pouch, and Coy and I started our stalk. The turkey was over in one of the corrals peckin’ at the ground. His back was toward us. We went through the open gate of the corral and started sneakin’ toward him. The ground in the corral was a little muddy, but we didn’t pay it no mind.

“Shoot ‘im,” whispered Coy.

“Shhhhh,” I shhhhessed. “Watch this.” I pulled back on my slingshot. I had the pouch pulled back under my right eye, and I took aim. The turkey raised his head. I released the pouch, and it shot forward releasing the rock. The rock flew straight at the turkey. It was almost like it was in slow motion. The rock conked the turkey right on the head.

“You got ‘im!” yelled Coy. But the turkey didn’t go down. He shook his head and turned around. Then lowered his head, and let out a gobble. I have never before, or since, heard a gobble like that before. It sounded more like somethin’ a dinosaur would scream. Then he started at us.

“RUN!” I yelled, and turned. Coy turned too, but he was too slow, and I ran right into his back.

“Offfff!” he said, as he fell face down in the mud. I ran right over the top of him.

“GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOBBLE!” screamed the turkey.

“AAAHHHHHHH- HH!” I screamed.

I looked back and Coy raised his head just as the turkey stepped right in the middle of his back. Then with the other foot, he pushed Coy’s head back down in the mud. The turkey didn’t slow down. I looked back toward the house, and Daddy Dodd was down on his hands and knees laughin’. I had to make it to the house. I looked back.

“GOBBLE GOBBLE GOBBLE!” screamed the turkey.

“AAAHHHHHHH- HH!” I screamed.

I almost made it to the porch steps when I tripped. I hit hard. I tensed up waitin’ to be pecked to death, but nothin’ happen. I turned my head and opened one eye, to see what I figured was the comin’ death bird.

There at my feet was the turkey. But he wasn’t lookin’ at me. He was lookin’ up. I turned back around and looked up myself. There on the porch was Momma Dodd.

She was standin’ there with a rollin’ pin in one hand and was slappin’ the open palm of her other hand with it. I looked back at the turkey. I could have sworn I saw it swallow hard. Nobody messes with Momma Dodd’s grandbabies.

In fact, Daddy Dodd and Chief had mysteriously disappeared.

“Git!” Momma Dodd said to the turkey, and he got. “Are you okay?” she asked me.

“Yes Ma’am,” I answered.

“Good. You leave that turkey alone, you hear?”

“Yes Ma’am,” I answered. She turned and went in the house.

I looked around and the turkey, like Daddy Dodd, and Chief, had disappeared. I cautiously made my way back out to the corral. There was Coy, still face down in the mud. You could see the side of his mouth just above the mud line, and it was through this openin’ that he was breathin’.

“You OK?” I said, as I squatted down beside him.

“Is it gone?” he said through the small openin’ of his mouth.

“Yeah,” I replied.

Coy then put his hands down beside his chest as if to do a push up. He pushed, and his face made a suckin’ noise, as it broke loose from the ground. He spit out a mud ball the size of your fist, and wiped his eyes.

“What happened?” he said. “How come the turkey didn’t kill us?”

“Momma Dodd,” I said.

“Where’s Daddy Dodd and Chief?” he asked.

“Momma Dodd,” I said again.

“Are we in trouble?”

“I don’t think so,” I replied.

“Thank the Lord,” said Coy.

“And the next best thing,” I replied, “Momma Dodd.”

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