In the hands of the wrong person, a slate turkey call has astounding power.
"I'll dial Owlface's number and then you hold my cell phone in front of me while I run through all the turkey calls I can do on my new slate call," I said to my buddy Bear Breath. "Owlface told me he wouldn't take me turkey hunting anymore until I learned how to call in my own bird. Wait until he hears what I can do now."
When my cell phone connected with Owlface's, I instantly said, "Don't say anything, just listen."
Before Owlface could respond, I started out with several yelps and clucks on my slate call, followed by a set of purrs. Then, for the big finale, I let go with a fly-down cackle topped off with three kee-kee runs. I would have done more to show Owlface how good I was, but Bear Breath kept making a slashing motion across his throat with his free hand so I figured he wanted me to stop calling for some reason.
"What have you got to say about that?" I asked into the phone.
After a moment of silence on the other end of the line, I heard, "Who is this? Why did you think I would want to listen to you torture a chicken over the phone? How did you get this number anyway? It's unlisted. If you ever call me again and do something like that I'm going to give your number to the cell phone company!"
"Who is this?" I asked. "I dialed my buddy Owlface's number. If you ain't Owlface, who are you and what are you doing with his phone?"
"My name is Joe Archer," said the voice on the other end of the line. "Obviously in your haste to prove to your friend Owlface that you are man enough to kill a chicken, you've dialed the wrong number."
"Man, I would think that a guy named Archer must be a bowhunter and he would have known right off what he was hearing when I cut loose with those calls," I said. "I spent a lot of time perfecting those calls, and you're telling me I sound like I'm killing a chicken. I think maybe you better brush up on your turkey calling, Mr. so-called Archer, or change your name."
"Now that you've explained what you were doing I am sure that you not only sound exactly like a big turkey, but you also act like one all the time," Archer said. "I would appreciate it if you would be more careful the next time you dial your friend's number. Goodbye!"
"Hey Owlface, you won't believe what just happened," I said when the real Owlface answered my next call. "I thought I dialed your number and let go with all the calls I can do on my new slate call. Evidently, I dialed the number of some guy named Archer by mistake, and he didn't recognize any of my calls. Can you believe a man named Archer ain't a bowhunter and didn't know anything about turkey hunting? Oh well, I got the right number this time so listen up. I'm going to show you how good a caller I am and then you'll beg me to go turkey hunting with you."
Then I gave Owlface the same sequence of calls I gave Archer. "What do you think of that?" I said.
"I think that Archer guy was being way too kind when he said you sounded like you were killing a chicken," Owlface said. "If I do take you turkey hunting with me again, you're going to have to promise me you won't make any of those noises in the woods."
Not to be deterred, I decided to get another opinion and drove out to Old Man Turner's farm. Old Man Turner had heard a lot more real wild turkeys on his farm than Owlface ever had. I figured he would me give his honest opinion on my turkey calling.
When I got there, I found Old Man Turner in his work shed and asked him if he would be willing to listen to some of my turkey calls and give me his opinion. He said he'd be happy to if I would help him fix some broken fence in his north pasture. "You can do your calls on the way," he said.
"Isn't the north pasture where you've got that huge Black Angus bull, Old Loco, that chased me all over that pasture one morning before daylight?" I asked. "Man, I never would have thought any critter that big could run that fast. I thought I was a goner for sure."
"The only reason he chased you that morning was because you let him," Old Man Turner said. "Old Loco likes to intimidate people. If he tries to give you any trouble today, just look him in the eye and let him know you ain't afraid of him, and he'll leave you be."
"Well, you know he'll just be bluffing, and now I know he'll just be bluffing, but I'm not so sure he knows he'll just be bluffing," I said. "How about I just tag along right next to you and if he comes after me you can tell him I know he's just bluffing?"
When we went through the gate into the north pasture I didn't see any sign of Old Loco. I got out my slate call and went through my whole repertoire of calls for Old Man Turner.
After I finished I started to ask him how he thought I did when I heard a grunting noise behind us. I turned around to see what it was. There was Old Loco about 30 yards away, grunting and shaking his head from side to side. Just as I was about to climb on top of Old Man Turner's shoulders, Old Loco turned and trotted off.
"What was that all about?" I asked.
"Well, it looks like you finally found a way to intimidate Old Loco, Maggie," Old Man Turner said. "I don't think you'll ever be able to call in any gobblers with those squeaks and squeals you just made, but it looks like you sure put Old Loco on the run with them."
A couple of weeks later Owlface and I were in Gert's Gas and Grub eating lunch after an unsuccessful morning of turkey hunting on the back side of Old Man Turner's north pasture. While we were walking to our hunting spot that morning I had walked into a low-hanging tree limb in the dark. A big blue bruise on my cheek and a large scratch across my nose were my reward for not being fast enough to get out of the way when Owlface let go of a tree limb he'd pushed out of his way while whispering, "Look out behind!"
When Bear Breath and Slick walked in and sat down at our table, Slick asked what had happened to my face.
"Ask Owlface," I said. "It was his fault."
"All I know is that Maggie has been practicing his turkey calling at home for the last two months," Owlface sai
d. "His wife, Three, called my wife the other night and said if he didn't stop doing that she wasn't going to be responsible for what happened to him.
When I picked him up to go hunting this morning he was all banged up. You guys can decide for yourselves what you think happened to him."
"I think I know," Bear Breath said. "You guys remember three weeks ago when we were all here and Maggie said his turkey calling was getting so good he was thinking of eventually going for the Grand Slam. Well, it looks to me like he's already got one fourth of his Slam thanks to Three. It'll be interesting to see if he can survive her next three slams."