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The Guthrie Bird (Page 2)

When his cherished hunting partner unexpectedly passes away, the author realizes the best way to honor him and keep his memory alive is to continue enjoying their most treasured pastime.

The gobbler roared. Was this really happening? It now sounded as if in range, though still out of sight and on the wrong side of the fence. I positioned my shotgun, ready if necessary to take a quick poke.

The bird was spitting and drumming between gobbles. It moved to Tim’s side of the mound and for the first time I saw its white, spongy head emerge over the brush. Just as quickly it ducked back below the slope and walked toward my side of the mound. And so it continued. The bird went to Tim’s side, then back to me, then to Tim again. We made eye contact and I wiggled my trigger finger: “Shoot it, Tim.”

But Tim could see that the bird still had not crossed the fence. It turned back to me once again. The bird’s gobbles seemed faster, more strained—frustration?

Damien watched the bird swing around my side of the mound, press its breast low to the sand and slide under the fence. The bird emerged at 20 yards with its fan spread wide, but it quickly broke strut. Did it see us? Too late: A Federal FliteControl wad delivered 1¼ ounces of No. 5 Heavyweight shot to its noggin. The 2¾-inch shell produced little recoil, affording me the opportunity to witness the bird’s feet flop into the air as it reverse somersaulted, stone dead.

■■■

I carried the bird back to our disabled Suburban, which the sun revealed to be in a beautiful location, a stand of pines providing shade along a swiftly flowing creek. Ranch hands arrived on horseback with a spare tire and were busy changing it. Lunches were dispersed.

And, as we sat there eating our sandwiches—ham with a creamy, cheddar-like el piño cheese on locally baked bread—I reflected upon the morning’s events: Damien’s insistence that Guthrie was with us; the tire exploding mid-conversation, stranding us in a location we never intended to hunt; and shooting a bird in dramatic fashion within 60 minutes. Some might think what occurred was a coincidence, but I feel in my heart that an old friend orchestrated the whole thing: Guthrie and “The Steen” slapped a turkey in Ol’ Mexico.

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2 Responses to The Guthrie Bird (Page 2)

sabrina hicks mitchell wrote:
January 30, 2014

Having known both Guthrie boys since they were very young nothing they have ever done surprises me at all...truly great young men...we all miss James...hey john got him a coyote yesterday...lol

April Odum wrote:
January 30, 2014

I grew up with the Guthrie boys and none of your stories surprise me! They are one of a kind. He was there that day hunting and he is missed. Thanks for a beautiful written 'story'!