We celebrated Reese’s first birthday on Saturday, March 7, one day late. But I’m pretty sure the one day delay wasn’t a concern. Her only concept of time is right now if she wants something and never, if her mom says it’s nap time.

There were a whole bunch of people she knows and loves all paying attention to her – everything as it should be: Mom, Dad, brother, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, great-uncles, great-aunt.

Then the presents started getting stacked in front of her. Reese didn’t have any idea what to do about wrapping paper. Then her mom, Erica, ripped the paper off the first present.

OK, that’s enough. Let me play with this one.

Then Reese got into the present opening thing. She started clapping her hands and so did all the guests.  Then Reese would throw up her arms signaling a touchdown, then go back to clapping.

I don’t know if she had any idea what was going on or what she might remember, but she knows how to party.

The party ended with a group photo of Reese and all her relatives. Someday that will be a treasure of “my first birthday.”

– I’m sorry we missed Van’s first and second birthdays. That’s why we moved back home so our kids would know their grandparents and other relatives. And now Adrian lives as far south as we did. She’s so far out in the sticks she doesn’t have an internet signal and is going to have to rent office space so she can communicate with her clients without a 40 second delay from the satellite signal.

– I had a big gobbler do that to me once. Dad and Brent Hillsman went after close gobblers west us. I went north after a faint gobble. I took off my clothes and waded the creek. I thought at first the big black thing was an Angus cow. I redressed and crawled to a big maple tree. All he had to do was come through some creek bottom saplings but no he took off north out of sight so I crawled through the saplings to cover the spot where he had been strutting. I found a log to sit beside.

In a few minutes he was gobbling at the spot I had just left. He soon headed back north so I knew he was coming back. When he got in sight, he’d strut and gobble then drop out of it and peck at tidbits on the ground.  He only had to come a few more feet to be in my shooting lane.

Finally, he dropped out of the strut and came in the brush to see about me. When he went behind about a four-inch sapling, I moved my shotgun up and over a limb on the log and was ready for him to step out from behind the sapling at about 20 yards.

But no, he gave an alarm pert then pulled his head back from the sapling and was looking at me through the tangle of brush.

I made my usual statement to myself in a tense situation like that: “OK, buddy, you and me are going to have a go at it.”

I lined up the Ghost Ring sights on his head and neck and pulled the trigger. Brush flew everywhere. I jacked another shell into the chamber and watched for him to go back toward the open field to my right or to the open brush to my left. Neither happened.

I got up and went to see my fate and his. Two oz. of No. 4 copper coated shot had cut off some one-inch saplings.  There laid my gobbler on his back. When I dressed him, he had shot under the skin from head to tail and I had a hunting memory.

The empty shell on my office wall has written on it 4/30/84, 20 yards, 22 lbs. 2 oz. and is holding an 11 in. beard.   KL

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