Toward the end of the meal the talk turned to Yankees. I asked whether I was one, by Texas standards. "Nope," Bill assured me. "A Yankee comes from east of the Mississippi and north of the Mason-Dixon line. New Jersey makes you a damn Yankee. And anybody from New York, why he's a goddam Yankee."
I was glad I hadn't mentioned I was born in Buffalo.
Dressed in camouflage from head to foot, including gloves, and with camouflage makeup smeared on our faces, Dick and I were out long before first light, sneaking among the mesquite and prickly pears where we had seen the gobbler with his three apprentices. The bright quarter moon gave little light, and I kept stumbling over roots and stones and stepping on sticks that snapped under my boots.
Dick had his favorite box call with him, and I had a 12-gauge pump-action gun with a magnum six shell in the chamber and two magnum fours in reserve. The plan was for Dick to conceal himself a short distance behind me and call a bird into range.
As soon as it was light enough to see the outlines of the trees against the sky, we hid behind patches of brush about a quarter of a mile back from the river. When we were settled, Dick yelped softly with the call. Nothing answered. After a couple of minutes he tried again, and again there was no response. We stayed there for half an hour, with Dick calling every few minutes, but we never heard a turkey.
Finally, Dick walked up behind me. "Well," he said. "We're screwed. Semi-screwed anyway. Nothing roosted down there last night. Now we'll hike around and try to find one."
We walked about three miles, and every few minutes Dick coaxed five or six seductive yelps from the box call. Finally, around eight o'clock, a gobbler answered from a long way off.
"Hear it?" Dick asked, grabbing my arm and squeezing hard. "You hear that? Let's go!"
He led the way toward a thick stand of mesquite, stopping after a couple of hundred yards to work the call again. This time the answer was easier to hear.
We veered slightly left and went another 200 yards. Out of heavy cover now, we stopped to listen. Another gobble came, and it was much closer.