I went turkey hunting with my boy yesterday – something he and his dad do together. It’s the second time he’s allowed me to join him, so I must’ve done something right the first time. Otherwise, he considers me a liability, so I have to curb my hilarity and prove to him that I’m actually an asset.
He usually packs himself up in his camo, with his backpack full of God-knows-what, but he won’t let me put snacks in there. He stays gone a couple hours, wandering the woods, returning with stories of beautiful animals that he saw, but maybe didn’t have a good shot.
When I mentioned going with him the first time, he smirked at me and said, “Absolutely not! You will scare them. You will be weird. You will freak out when I kill something and probably cry. Would you even shoot an animal?!” I assure him that I will do none of those things, including shoot an animal. I have definitely led him to believe that I might misbehave. I can see how he comes to these conclusions.
“You don’t even have camo!” he says. So my oldest tosses me a pair of pants. I find a brown shirt, and the 12-year-old Wyatt says, no way. Brown isn’t going to work. Wha?! I find a black shirt. What about this?! He sighs deeply and acquiesces. “You can’t wear your pink running shoes, mom!” Okok…I come back with my grey mud boots. He sighs again and says, “You don’t have a hat! Or a mask! And you can’t wear those shiny sunglasses!” I run back to my bedroom, dig around, and produce a sheer brown curtain. It seems like I might get to go. “I could wrap this around me??”
“Oh for god sakes!,” he exclaims, with faux exasperation, but amusement around the edges of his smirk. “Ok,” he says. Wrap the curtain around your face.”
So I do.
I can’t help but feel like he is my older sibling at times. Sometimes even, a father figure. He lectures me frequently and keeps me from doing things like…hiking on private property where there are video cameras…peeing at the side of a parking lot…changing clothes on the beach…doing cartwheels on a restaurant deck…things like that. My bestie and I dub him the “Lil Sheriff”.
That said, he won’t let me take my glass of bourbon on the hunt. FINE. I wash it down and toss the glass onto the lawn. “MOM!” Ok, ok. I put it in the house, walking past his shoes and socks discarded earlier near the bushes and know that he will be vexed tomorrow when he can’t find them and they are wet from the night rain. I do not mention the double standard.
We head up the hill, the curtain constantly slipping off my head, but I don’t complain. He wants to retrieve a bucket from the deer stand so that I will have something to sit on in the blind. As he climbs up, I begin video for the documentary I am planning in my head. He is so frustrated and can’t believe I am doing this. He silently and frantically waves at me to turn it off. From here on I have to be a lot sneakier. But the sunlight is perfect and he is beautiful, so I MUST continue photographing.
He pulls out his slate turkey call and begins chirping it like a hen, hoping to lure in a Tom. He is so serious that it makes me laugh. He turns exasperated. I apologize profusely. Silently. He shoves it in his pocket and continues climbing the hill. The striker falls out of his pocket, and he doesn’t notice. I pick it up and slip it into my pocket. I am overjoyed that I have noticed, and I am now an asset! I will wait for the perfect moment to show him that I have it. A few minutes later I get my chance. I see him searching his pockets. He looks vexed. He turns to look at me. I produce it with a triumphant smile. He snatches it from me. “What would you have done without me?!” I ask. He is not impressed. He is certain he would have found it back without me.
We get to the blind and he sets up my seat. He looks at me sideways as he settles in because I am sneaking photos of him. I pull a bag of gummies out of my pocket and he grins wildly. “Ok, I guess it’s ok to have you,” he laughs, eating them with delight while searching the woods for movement. I sit as quietly as I possibly can, afraid even to breathe.
“Are you going to shoot a daddy turkey?” I ask seriously.
He slowly turns his head to look at my concern in disbelief. “No,” he says firmly. “But maybe a mother.” I return his look with mock disbelief and am shaking laughing. Silently though.
I can no longer sit still. He knows this. It’s getting dark and the turkeys are about to turn in for the night. I offer to flush the turkeys to where he is by walking the ridge where I have seen them before. He agrees this is a good idea, but doesn’t want me to think I know what I’m doing.
“Don’t be running around Bert’s cow field like a crazy person!” he advises. I roll my eyes and head out. I climb over barbed wire and make my way down steep woods, listening and looking. I hear the same noises Wyatt makes on his slate call, and I freeze. I look around to see if he’s messing with me, but he’s not. There are actually turkeys. I sit and wait, but it sounds like they are staying put. The sun disappears as I hear them quiet down. I feel like I am tucking the turkeys into bed. No way I’m going to flush them anywhere. The dusk turns dark with hues of bright pink painting the mountain ranges and the hens are quiet. I climb back up, tangling my head curtain in the barbed wire, disappointed that he can’t see this misadventure. I walk back to the blind, and Wyatt is gone. I find him at home, sitting on the front porch in a rocker sipping cider and complaining that I LEFT HIM.
The next day he lets me come along again…