DWMF is proud to highlight employee Robert Clawson and nephew Colby Jones in the below recent article by Sam Venable, published in the The News Sentinel on May 15, 2011.
To paraphrase the old Beatles song, you get by with a little help from your friends.
That's especially true in the outdoors. Whether your buddy is handling the dip net as you wear down a smallmouth bass or rolling up sleeves to assist field-dressing the buck you just tagged, any and all aid is welcome.
Same with turkey hunting, particularly on the quest for your first bird. In this league, four eyes and four ears beat two any day.
Herewith, a pair of stories on how newcomers to the sport earned their wings during the 2011 spring season, which ends at sunset today.
"It's the best turkey I never killed," says veteran Jefferson County hunter Robert Clawson of the gobbler he called in for his 14-year-old nephew, Colby Jones.
Colby, a seventh grader at Maury Middle School, suffers from muscular dystrophy and is confined to a motorized wheelchair. One of his fondest wishes was to bag a wild turkey.
On the second weekend of the season, Clawson loaded nephew, wheelchair, decoys and a portable blind onto his four-wheeler and ferried them to one of his favorite hunting areas.
"I literally had to set the blind up around Colby," said Clawson, an employee of the city of Dandridge. "With that chair and him and me inside, there wasn't much room to move around."
Shortly after sunrise, Clawson coaxed a flock of 12 jakes toward the decoys. He's not sure who was more excited.
"We were both shakin'," said Clawson. "I'd brought a shooting stick so Colby could rest his shotgun. He's so weak from MD, I had to pull the hammer back for him.
"The birds were all around the blind, but in the time it took for me to get Colby calmed down, they started walkin' off. The last one was about 25 yards away. I whispered to him, 'If you're ever goin' to kill a turkey, you've got to shoot now.' When he fired, the gobbler rolled, but then it got back up and ran."
Colby was devastated, almost to the point of tears. "I'm never going to get one am I, Uncle Robert?" he sighed plaintively.
Clawson doubted he'd have success - any hunter who ever attempted to chase a wounded turkey knows what I mean - but he tore out of the blind and took off running in the direction the bird had gone.
"I couldn't find anything at first," he said. "Then way down in the woods, I heard its wings beatin' against the ground.
"When I carried that bird back to the blind and pitched it in front of Colby, he started hollerin' and whoopin'. I've never seen that kid so happy. And if you want to know the truth, I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes."