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New Turkey Hunter Needs a Hand

Discussion in 'Indiana Turkey Hunting' started by reowen51, Jun 26, 2007.

  1. It has been a while since I last posted on this site but thought my stories were well recieved. This story is about my buddy Bernie Potter's first Michigan turkey hunt and other events that totally ruined our day.

    The following was written last April following one of the most emotional turkey hunts of my life. You can enjoy a hunt or a day for that matter and still not be grateful for either one. That is what happened to me on that day during this hunt. For those of you that know me I am not a complainer. I don’t ask for help often but because of that hunt and that day I feel compelled to ask for your help, prayers or both. Maybe the gratefulness for that hunt and day was to come later and thus the story. Help out if you can or send it along to friends who may enjoy a good story or be able to help in their own special way.
    Some Things Are Just Not Right

    His eyes teared up and his lower lip quivered a bit as he stood before me saying, “Bob, I can’t go tonight we just heard from Deb’s doctor and it’s not good.” Bernie and I had planned to hunt Michigan’s wild turkeys together that afternoon and possibly get a shot at one of many “Toms” on my property or at least hear them fly up and gobble so we could be on them tomorrow morning. However, this was one of those moments in time that just changes everything. The day had begun so beautifully and produced so much excitement that this statement, this comment, did not seem to fit well into the day we had experienced so far. Deb’s cancer was back.
    I first met Bernie Potter who is seven years my senior, back in 1999. He was employed as a state park ranger, while my wife and I were campground hosts for the summer in the park where he was employed. It did not take us long to connect with each other because of our mutual interest in the out of doors, especially our passion for hunting. Our relationship grew in spite of the fact that Bernie had never hunted turkeys before and the distance between our homes was nearly 200 Miles.
    In the past few years Bernie and I have shared numerous hunts together. I own a small tract of land not far from Bernie’s house and he and I have archery hunted deer there often. Bernie’s wife Debbie and my wife Kris have become friends as well.
    Debbie had surgery a year and a half ago. Surgery was followed up by chemotherapy and radiation. For the last year and a half everything had gone well. There had been no sign of the disease again until today. Bernie and I had talked about Debbie’s condition just this morning while we sat in the dark waiting for that magical first gobble of the morning. She had returned last Friday to a message from her Doctor asking her to call Monday for a follow-up appointment. This was Monday afternoon and Debbie had already seen the Doctor and gotten the news by the time I stopped by to pick Bernie up for the evening hunt.
    I went into the house and spoke briefly with Deb. She is tough. As I hugged her and began to tear up myself, almost as if to deflect the attention from herself and back to something more pleasant, she asked to see the videotape I had taken of Bernie’s hunt that morning. This had been Bernie’s first turkey hunt. At age 62, I had several weeks earlier, convinced Bernie to buy an over the counter, leftover, tag and let me guide him on my property. My tag was for another part of the state at a later date. He agreed and I promised to make it memorable by video taping it. At Debbie’s request I ran back to my car, removed the tape from the camera and put it in their VCR.
    What the tape didn’t show was our 5:15 A.M. rendezvous at the property and our set up and strikeout at our first location. We moved to my second “hot spot” at about 6:20 A.M. and before we set out the decoys he gobbled from across the field 120 yards away. I belly crawled to the fence line on the crest of a small ridge and placed two decoys there and crawled back to Bernie and my camera as he gobbled again. He had moved and was now about fifty yards from where we had heard him first, moving from our left to right. He was Straight across the field from us when I turned on the camera and made my first calls to him. He answered immediately and I waited and called again. He cut me off with a gobble. Deb heard me whisper to Bernie on the video, “ Game on Bernie and this guy wants to play! Get ready and get comfortable.”
    Minutes later he gobbled again and I saw his white head as he crested the rise in the middle of the field. We laughed at the video as it became apparent that Bernie could not see the bird as it crossed the field. His view was obscured. A rather large oak tree at the field’s edge became the object we would play peek-a-boo around with that Tom for the next ten minutes. I watched and filmed the bird almost continuously while Bernie leaned right and left at my command as the bird strutted back and forth and gobbled repeatedly only thirty-five yards away. The three of us giggled like kids as we watched.
    Suddenly, a hen cackled and flew down to the middle of the field and ran towards Bernie’s strutting gobbler. I whispered to Bernie that if she got to that Tom she would lead him away from us and it would be game over. You have to take the next available shot you get he is not coming any closer. I called again hoping the gobbler would turn our way and not see the hen he had moving toward him. She was behind him and only seconds away from a rendezvous when the Tom moved far enough to the right side of the tree that Bernie finally got a clear shot at him. Bang… a small sapling ten yards out shakes as the load nearly cut to in half. The gobbler jumps high into the air lands and walks two steps out as Bernie racked another shell into the Remington 870. “ Hit him again I commanded!” Boom…the video shows a wave of underbrush clipped by the number fives and a very healthy Tom turkey flying back across the field.
    Bernie turns to me and the camera and says, “I don’t believe it…I missed twice! I’m rolling on the ground laughing and Bernie says, “But you know what? I am now addicted to turkey hunting!” I videoed some of the damage done to my trees by the two turkey load blasts and the three of us sat in the living room for just a few minutes able to escape the reality of Debbie’s mortality. We took the video out.
    I remembered that earlier that day when the camera was off and Bernie and I sat in the woods waiting for another gobbler to announce that he wanted to play the game that Bernie and I had talked as friends do about things as they were. He had confided in me that the medical bills he and his wife were looking at still amounted to over $35,000. He is afraid of losing his home. He said his credit is terrible. I want to help.
    Remember, Debbie’s cancer is back, the bills will only go higher. Just like that Tom turkey Bernie missed got a new lease on life so to can Debbie. She has a second load of number fives heading her way but she can still fly just like that old Tom did this morning. I only hope that the grim reaper is as poor a shot as Bernie.
    As most of you know I am a self-published author. My book, “Kids, Success is a Decision” is not available in the national bookstore chains. I sell most of my books locally to people that have heard me speak about motivating young people to succeed. I gave a copy of the book to Bernie and Debbie because Bernie had taken several pictures I used in the book. Debbie had just begun her caner treatments and promised to read what I had written. Three days later when I saw her again she had finished the book and greeted me at the door with a huge hug. “ Bob”, she said, “your book is fantastic. I couldn’t put it down. It has given me a new perspective on my illness and my life. I can’t express to you what your thoughts and words, meant for children, have done for me. How can I help you get them sold?” The Logmark Bookstore in Cheboygan, Michigan where Debbie used to work is the only “bookstore “ that has them for sale. The profits go to Debbie’s medical bills.
    At this time of year right before all those high school graduation parties I believe they would make a wonderful graduation gift for graduating seniors. Teachers focused on standardized tests often overlook the success principles covered in this book. They are also appropriate for parents, educators, coaches, and others working with our young people. I have thousands of them stored at my home. They cost me about $5 to print and mail out to people that want them. They retail at $12 a copy. I would be honored to send you a copy of the book for any amount you would like to donate to help my new turkey-hunting partner Bernie Potter and his wife Debbie with their medical bills. All the profit will go directly to them.
    Also if you could copy and paste this story along to those who might enjoy it and be able to help I would be forever grateful. God bless you all!
    Success is a Decision,
    670 Ubly Rd.
    Sandusky Mi. 48471 Phone 1-810-672-8921
  2. Touching story Bob, I'm a father of three and I'm going to scrape up some money and order a book. God Bless you and your friends.

  3. Thankyou Fordgo6! How old are the kids and can I autograph or personalize the copy for you? I only have 4,998 copies to go. Thanks again and God bless you all.