This is a re-run, but this is the best Thanksgiving related story that I have, so I’m sharing it again. Hope it makes you giggle.
Whatever possessed my family to go camping in The North Georgia Mountains in November I’ll never know. I suppose the thought of spending Thanksgiving out in the wilderness free from the distractions of modern life with only nature and family for company seemed peaceful and authentic. I suppose it was peaceful even with my raucous family, however, as we would learn much later, it was far from authentic.
The North Georgia Mountains are beautiful. There is no doubt about it. However, when it is 30 degrees outside the majestic pines and the clear, rocky rivers and roaring waterfalls are difficult to enjoy. The adults at least had alcohol to help defrost themselves, but I was a pre-teen so the campfire was my only source of warmth. This was a primitive campsite, so there were no bathroom facilities and the only running water was the freezing river. Plus this was in the days before cell phones, laptops or mp3 players. My entertainment included listening to the grown-ups tell stories and watching them almost fall into the fire after enjoying too much “liquid warmth.” If it weren’t so cold, I would have sworn it was hell.
In addition to my immediate family (mom, step
dickdad, older sister) our cousin Chris and his wife Gini were camping with us. Chris is a big bear of a man with jet black hair and the most impressive beer gut I had ever seen. At some point during the day before Thanksgiving, Chris started bragging that he could trek into the woods and kill us a wild turkey for dinner. Other than beer, Chris tends to be full of shit, so we didn’t take him too seriously. But he insisted that he could hunt down a turkey. He had even done some research and said he knew that there were turkeys in the area. My mom was one if his biggest detractors. She outright dared Chris to go hunting and return with anything other than frostbite. Better than that, she said if Chris killed a turkey, she would gut it, pluck it and cook it over the campfire. Chris gleefully accepted her challenge.
The next morning, Chris emerged from his tent in full hunting regalia which for him consisted entirely of boots, bow and quiver of arrows slung across his chest and a loincloth. He stood, fists on hips in the frigid mountain morning air, beer gut glistening in the dappled sunlight that filtered through the pines. The rest of us were gathered around the fire, speechless at the sight. Did I mention that Chris used to do a lot of drugs?
So, my mostly naked cousin hiked into the woods and up the hill in search of the illusive wild mountain turkey. We lost sight of him and then after a while we heard him sound his turkey call. He called a few more times and, unbelievably, we heard a turkey gobble in reply. Then again, Chris sounded his call and we heard a turkey answer. All of us back at the camp were amazed that he had actually tracked one down. But could he get a shot at it?
We got our answer when we heard a rustling in the woods and then saw Chris tramping toward us holding up the limp body of a turkey by its legs. My mom’s jaw dropped. The crazy bastard had actually done it. He dropped the turkey at my mom’s feet and said, “I believe you got some work to do.” My mom, true to her word, began cleaning the bird for dinner.
For years afterward, we would recall this story at family gatherings and over drinks with friends. My mom would sheepishly admit that she was bested by her cousin, but it was worth it to have fresh caught wild turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.
Many years later, I believe it was at Christmas, we were at Chris and Gini’s house talking after dinner when the turkey story came up in conversation. It was then that Chris told us, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story.
A few days before the camping trip, Chris went to a farm and bought a live turkey. He kept the poor thing in a cage in their living room until it was time to leave for the mountains. They arrived at the camp site much earlier than we did which gave Chris enough time to lug the caged turkey far into the woods where it was left until the morning of the fateful hunt. He had the whole thing planned, but when my mom challenged his hunting prowess and wagered that he couldn’t deliver, it just added another level of hilarity to the situation. Chris admits that when he was standing over the turkey in his loincloth, arrow poised, he almost couldn’t go through with it. He was a hunter, but killing a caged animal just wasn’t sporting. I suppose that the opportunity to make my mother eat her words won out over his ethics.
The turkey story continues to be one of our family favorites, but now for a completely different reason. Even my mom found the whole thing too funny to be miffed that she was tricked.
I hope that everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with friends, family and laughter. And, if you have turkey, I hope you don’t have to kill it and clean it yourself. Or, if you do, I hope you aren’t wearing a loincloth.