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Linda Barkley's Show and Tell

Szpiper2This came in the email for the Give Us The Bird Photo Contest. Take it away Linda

Show and Tell, I can't help myself on this one.

Sunday morning May 20, 2007, I was waking to an alarm at 4 a.m. on a farm east of Andrew, Iowa. Get the camo on, brush the teeth, pull the hair back, put the boots on out on the porch, put the turkey vest on, check the pockets (extra turkey load, turkey calls, chalk for my favorite box call, brown napkins so you’re not waving a white flag in those needed moments, water, decoy, hand warmer, clippers for the lovely multiflora rose, make-shift first aid kit, and all the other stuff you may have collected from past hunts that you had yourself convinced that you can't live without). Load the gun, put the vest on, hook the seat cushion to the vest, sling the gun over the shoulder, push the truck door shut as softly as you can and then you hear the first gobble of the morning.

There is a peace over the open land and woods with the stars shining bright. We're heading to the West field with the glow of a night light, slightly shimmering to the east, soon to be the fiery ball of sun shining brightly in about 45 minutes. I head down toward the pond and find myself a nice little tree by the fence, as Jim goes up to his favorite corner. He can see the planted field to the east and north of him, alfalfa field to his south and a rolling pasture to his west, where it meets the big old hardwood trees that are nourished by a spring fed creek stocked with trout.

The decoys are all positioned and we both are as cozy as can be, sitting on that old tired tail bone that has been abused for the last four weeks. I could hear Jim start that soft morning yelp of his call and I followed in.

OH MY! GOBBLES from every direction and hens starting to pitch a fit. How dare there be a new girlfriend in town calling to my man!

As the morning goes by, the calls get louder and the toms are cutting you off with their deep throated gobbles. There is something about the sound they make that can get anyone’s attention. Well, the morning goes by and still no sign of any turkeys around me, except a mouthy old hen over in the pasture and some toms answering my calls at a distance. The gobbles are sounding farther away now.

My sleep deficit started to creep in along with the realization of it being Sunday with a full work week ahead of me. It's time to head home and call it quits to a long spring turkey season. Moving slowly, I pack my stuff up and head to the house with my eyes on the newly planted field so as not to step on the corn seedlings. There was no skip in my walk, the vest and the gun became a few pounds heavier.

Jim met me at the truck trying to convince me that no one could say I didn't work hard this season in trying to get a turkey.

That's why it's called hunting, baby.

SzpiperWe give our thanks to Keith and Sheri for all of their hospitality and friendship, as they are on their way to church. Pack the truck and we are on our way back to the city. Bummer!

Jim asks if I want to take a drive and of course I say yes. We have our little drive about as we go on to soak up as much peace and beauty as we can before we're back to the concrete and buildings.

We head north on the gravel road from the farm. As we are coming up to our first turn, something catches our attention strutting in the edge of another corn field that we have permission to hunt.

Whoo! Now that's a BIG BIRD!

Jim and I are thinking the same thoughts at this time. Make the turn, head on down a ways and let me out of this truck. Jim went down about 1/2 a mile and stopped. I jump out with a boost of energy I didn't even know I had in me. I put my sunglasses on, stuff my turkey call in my pocket, load the gun and hear Jim saying to me, “Good luck, Baby".

In an instant I had to become a mountain goat. Down a steep hill to the gully and climb the other side, sliding in the dirt with every planted step grabbing the weeds around me as they are coming right out of the ground.
What's up with this? The weeds never come out so easy like this at home. A couple more inches and I can grab that tree, I'm up and over.

The deer and turkeys had their own interstate through these woods. I followed the path, under the fence and low and behold, a fallen tree with multiflora rose grown up all about it. I start to call. A few minutes later I have a hen in my lap. She sees me and turns with an alarming putt. I continue to call, hoping that my calls are louder than her siren. She heads a little way back toward the direction of where the tom should be cresting over the hill and goes into the dense brush behind me. I continue to call.

I can see the great fan of the tom coming toward me, about 20 yards out through the weeds and brush. O.K., keep my composure. Think. It's all about timing now. He's in range, but I'm not going to make a good shot through all this growth.

Wait, wait, wait, wait. I have to make my move before he sees me, but I have to make sure it's a clear shot. He’s in full strut, drumming his way toward me. Oh my, he's going to hear my heart beating out of my chest and see my whole body trembling.

O.K., I can do this. Gun up, safety off, squeeze the trigger—all to be completed in a split second. The time is here, gun up, his head rises, my safety is off and then I squeeze the trigger.

Oh my GOD! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you LORD! With his beak plowed into the powdered soil, he's down.

As I fumble for the cell phone to call Jim, my body has not stopped shaking. Oh yea, breathe! I'm phoning Jim as I'm walking out to the huge bird on the ground. Oh honey, he's HUGE! Yes, he's not going anywhere, but in some marinade and on our grill. 

It’s a double-bearded tom, 10 1/2 and 7 1/2 inches, with 1 1/4-inch spurs (they hook). The bird when weighed will tug the scales to 28 1/4 pounds. It’s the heaviest bird I’ve ever had to carry out. But that’s quite all right by me.


Bea Mary

What a big bird...Really enjoyed seing this, just wish I could have had a piece.. Great story..Thanks


This is a great story and Lind is a great woman. But, you guys got her last name wrong.

Fawn Cook

Linda is a great hunter! I have to say she is the only female companion hunter I have ever had and couldn't ask for a better girl to go experience the outdoors with. Rock on with your big bird Linda!! See ya at Dear Season!!!


Hey RM,

What's her last name? That's what was on her email account. Let me know and I'll be glad to fix it.




inside story is last name of Barkley but I'm not telling. If "Big Boy" (Bird) gets his way it will be Piper.