“I can live two months on a good compliment!” said Mark Twain, who penned two of my favorite childhood novels, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”
Unlike Twain, some compliments last me a lifetime, especially one that was dished a while back on a Sunday morning.
“Well, there’s my former neighbors!” Derek said when my wife and I entered a church to hear our grandson play guitar in the worship band.
“I sure do miss the place!” I replied.
“The turkeys don’t miss you!” Derek said, followed by a hearty laugh.
Our home and 20 acres, a wildlife paradise not far from Derek’s home, some 5 miles south of Carl Junction, was sold more than a year ago to a couple from Texas. Since then, Cheryl and I have downsized.
The compliment — one I didn’t see coming — made my day. It doesn’t take much these days to get on my good side.
How did Derek find out about my turkey harvests on the 20 acres? He’s either read my columns through the years or heard of my longbeard harvests from my grandsons. Maybe it’s a combination of both. It doesn’t matter.
Derek’s kind words made me miss our place even more, but that’s OK. On this property, I guided four grandsons and a son-in-law to their first deer harvest. As for me, harvesting deer and turkeys comes in second.
Every so often, I ponder buying a new deer rifle, although I don’t need one. A .243, a 30.30, a 25.06 and a 30.06, all of which are more than ample to dispatch whitetail, compete for space in my crowded gun safe.
I’ve told my wife several times over the years that we need to buy a bigger gun safe.
“No, we don’t! You need to sell some of your guns!” she said.
“That ain’t gonna happen!” has always been my canned reply.
I’ve had a lot of good times with Ol’ Betsy, my stubby, short-barreled .243 in the Remington Mohawk 600 model. Best I can tell, it was manufactured during the late 1960s or early to mid 1970s.
Being a sentimental old goat, the thought of not going afield every firearms season with my venerable .243 since we became friends more than 30 years ago is out of the question. However, it saddens me to think that Ol’ Betsy may be close to retirement. There may not be much rifling left in the bore of the barrel, and I’m consistently getting scattered groups off the bench at 100 yards.
I plan to take her someday to a gunsmith to have the bore diagnosed. If the barrel has been shot out, maybe it could be rebored to a larger caliber. I’m not crossing my fingers, but it’s worth a shot — pardon the pun.
If the rifling is still in fair to good condition, I’ve either become a lousy marksman or some other problem has occurred that I haven’t diagnosed. Hopefully it’s not the former.
If I do decide to purchase another deer slayer to complement my selection, it most likely would be a 6.5 Creedmoor. This new-kid-on-the-block caliber is the rage these days.
Since retiring from public school teaching in 2011, I’ve been a substitute teacher in the Carl Junction School District. Many of the high school students know that I write an outdoor column for the Globe because their parents are subscribers. As a result, those who hunt and fish share their outdoor adventures.
When time permits, I’m all ears. One such story comes from Cooper, a senior.
During the firearms deer season a few years ago, Cooper said that he could’ve easily dropped a nice eight-point buck at close range on adjoining property. Someone said later that he could’ve taken the deer because the landowner wouldn’t have cared.
“That was hearsay,” I replied. “You didn’t have personal permission from the landowner to hunt deer on the property.”
Cooper agreed, and that’s why he didn’t take the shot.
I told him that many hunters — young or old — would’ve succumbed to the temptation and shot the deer.
“You made the right choice!” I told Cooper. “I’m proud of you!”
A week later, Cooper said that a family member harvested the buck with a bow and had it mounted (shoulder mount) by a taxidermist.
“The buck could’ve been on my wall!” Cooper said humorously.
“That’s true, Cooper, if you had enough money back then to have it mounted.” I replied. “Shoulder mounts are expensive. You’ll have one someday. You’ve got a lot of years ahead of you!”
Sometimes it takes a heavy dose of self-discipline to do the right thing. What Cooper did speaks well of his character and the raising he’s received from his parents.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Keith Costley lives in Baxter Springs, Kan., and is an avid fisherman and hunter.