by Gary Gilchrist
Mark pulled his boat up to the Grand River landing. We had hunted the Atchafalaya basin this morning and had been successful. I looked at the giant levee that kept the basin’s flood water in. It was covered with green clover and the cattle that lived on the levee were round and fat on it. Everywhere you looked were these giant, wet, green cow patties. I stepped out of Mark’s custom made aluminum boat and headed for the truck to back the trailer down the ramp to load the boat. I was still wearing my life jacket and coat and was carrying my Super Black Eagle. To this day I don’t know what I tripped on, but I lost my balance and fell forward. I took off running and the faster I ran the more I fell. Everything was in slow motion now. I fell into the clover and right in front of me was this giant cow patty!
I had met Mark at his home at 04:30 that morning. He was standing by his boat and truck ready to go. I transferred 5 gallons of gas to his boat and we were ready to go. We headed up the Atchafalaya levee to the Grand River landing. It was a weekday and we were the only ones at the landing. We launched the boat and were on our way. We arrived at the area we wanted to hunt well before big daylight.
I grabbed my vest and Bennelli and hit the woods and Mark headed up the river. As it slowly became light, I listened for a thunder chicken to sound off. It was a cool morning and birds were singing everywhere. Nothing, nada, nil. Big daylight arrived. I started walking and calling. After about a half a mile a hen cut at me! Big Boy hammered in response. GOOOOBBLLLLe! I sat down, they were close. I was in chest high yellow tops. I could see about 15 feet. As I sat against a Cypress tree, I figured I would see the yellow tops moving as they came in. I called but they were talking to each other back and forth. They joined up just out of my site. He answered me a couple times, but the hen was leading him off.
I got quiet and waited a while. Nothing. I called awhile but he was gone. I decided to walk toward them and call every once in a while. They were gone. I walked out onto a logging road that was posted down the side. This was as far as I could go. I walked down the road parallel to the signs, calling sparingly. Nothing again, as it was getting up in the day I cut across to my pick-up point still calling. I was on a dry slough when he hammered. I called softly to him. He double gobbled and he was close. He had to have been sneaking up on me and I wouldn’t stop moving, so he got my attention. I sat down quickly. There was no time for a face mask or gloves, he was that close. As the gun settled on my knee, he step out of the yellow tops into the dry slough at 40 yards. I could see a big bird with big solid red waddles and a big head, but no beard! He was huge and I knew he would make me out soon. His big deep gobbles were almost continuous. I made a decision and the Black Eagle roared. The 3 ½ no. 6’s had done their job. There were still feathers in the air when I got to him. What a nice bird. He later weighed in at 25 lbs and had 1 ¼ inch spurs. His beard was thick, 1 inch long and solid white. It looked like someone had trimmed it with a sharp pair of scissors. His right foot had a toe missing. I would sure like to know that story. I could see a bobcat or a coyote close call. I wish now I had mounted him because he was so unique.
I walked out to the river to wait for Mark. He arrived in a short time. He had had a round with one but the turkey won this time. We decided to call it a day and head for home. We arrived at the landing and I went to get the truck and trailer. There I was running and falling forward. I couldn’t out run the fall and down I went. I was trying to keep that Bennelli from taking a lick when to my horror there was a giant cow pie 6 inches from my nose!!!! Well, I slid through that cow pie and clover like a baseball player stealing second base. This big green wave rose up in front of my face. I slid through it pass my boots before I got stopped. If my mouth had not been open I would have got a lot more on my face! I stood up. My mouth was full. My face was full. It was down my collar, my pants and in my boots. It was places that I will not mention. If someone tells you eating cow patties will kill you, you can tell them you know someone who ate his fair share and it did not kill him!! My Super Black Eagle had turned into a Super Green Eagle!
Mark was in the boat with his back to me. No one had seen what happened. I took off the life vest, jacket, hat, boots and put the green gun in the truck. Grabbed a bottle of water and went to work on my mouth. (It took a few days to get the taste out of my mouth; everything I ate had the slight hint of cow pie.) I walked down to the bayou to wash up some for the trip home. About this time Mark had turned around and yelled “Fat boy, you gonna get the truck today or what?”
He made me ride in the pickup bed on the way home. Nita took a hose to me and threw my green underwear away. My Bennelli still has a green tint to it.