Our Family Thanksgiving Tradition

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For as long as I can remember I have went hunting on the weekend before Thanksgiving in an attempt to provide one, if not more, turkeys to prepare for our Thanksgiving feast. Even before I was hunting myself, I was tagging along, learning from my father, my grandfather, and my uncles. I was very excited when I turned 12 because  it was finally my time to join in on the hunt with my family. As the years passed on the tradition was carried on with my own children, it started with my oldest daughter (23 y/o now), my middle daughter (17 y/o now), and most recently with my 12 y/o son. He has accompanied me for many years and after turning 12 this summer he knew it was going to be his turn to bring home a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. My family has a “secret” spot where we bow hunt for turkey. I was entrusted with the location years ago and 3 years ago the ownership of the land was transferred to me when my uncle passed away. This is one location friends never get to go, this is one place that is for family members only, and that tradition has been in place since the 30s and I don’t see it changing on my watch. For the last few years my son has been practicing his bow hunting skills and proved himself recently during bow hunting season when he had a very clean kill of a 10 point whitetail buck from 35 yards at ground level. A technically challenging shot for seasoned bow hunters. Lets just say he nailed it after a long road of education, patience, and dedication.

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The first part of the hunt always starts a few weeks before the season actually opens up. We set up stalks to see where the turkey are running so we can calculate the best places for us to set up later. As I stated before, we have been bow hunting this land for many, many years, and for the most part the turkey pass through the same spots by the river year after year, so that is where we start, year after year. There is no need to bait or place decoys because they have a healthy population in this area and a relatively easy to find if you actually know where to look. Granted, there have been seasons so stricken with drought that there were no turkeys, but they always come back sooner or later. My son has mastered the art of the stalk, he has mastered the art of taking pictures in the wild, flagging trees, and mapping out locations with and without using a gps. He like to spend time in the woods without a weapon as well, he likes the connection, and he appreciates that mother nature is willing to provide a great bounty to see that our family eats all year long. He learned early on that in our family we do not buy meat from the store, we hunt, and we provide 95% of the meat that is eaten by our family.

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This year, with my work schedule, the rest of my family went out opening weekend and have not returned because they hit their limits already. But, my son and my daughters have yet to go, until yesterday. The way it all ended up working out is my son and I drove out to our location late Saturday afternoon. With just enough daylight left we had time to set up our tent, get a campfire going, and get some food prepared. It was an anxious night for my son, I don’t think he slept at all because he was so excited, he has been waiting a very long time to be able to be the one who brings home the turkey we will eventually eat for Thanksgiving. With the exception that it was 40 degrees overnight, I slept just fine. At 4am I start feeling the jabs from my son, with a dad, dad, dad, dad. Is it time to get up? Is it time yet? Dad, dad, dad, dad. In the distance we could already hear the songs of the turkeys, it was time to get up, eat real quick, and disappear into the woods. At first light we were surprised to see many large turkeys feeding at the edge of the trees. It was very hard to move through the trees and brush because the leaf litter was very crunchy. As we came closer we started getting into the wet litter so we would arrive undetected. We were in place for about 30 minutes when my son was ready to take his first shot. Deep breath, release, breath again. He had made the perfect shot, the turkey dropped immediately. It was the perfect textbook shot from 30 yards. He quickly ran to his bird, assessed his breathing, there was none, so we knew he was dead. My son kneeled by the turkey, put his hand under his limp body, and offered a prayer. “Lord, thank you for this beautiful turkey as this turkey will feed my family and provide happiness for everyone. We thank you for providing this turkey, in your name we pray, amen”. It took me a moment, I was a bit choked up, as I wiped the tears from my eyes I realized my son understood his connection with the land, the animals, and mother nature. It was a beautiful moment to witness.

We packed up to head back to camp where we loaded the ATVs on the trailer, packed the tent, diluted the ashes of the fire, and put the turkey in the cooler in preparation for our travels home. Sunday night we dressed the 23lb turkey and set it to soak in a secret recipe of Wild Turkey, cranberry sauce, sliced oranges, a variety of mild peppers and seasoning, and just a pinch of my secret ingredient. This turkey will rest in this mixture in the refrigerator until late Wednesday night when he will be removed to join the others on my pit smoker for their 12 hour journey into smoked tenderness and bliss. Until then, this post will close.

Racers Aren’t Born

My son Jackson welcomes this newest addition to the Jackzilla Racing family. Tuesday he turned 12 and we surprised him with his very own brand spanking new remote controlled (r/c) truck. Over the last couple of years he has been practicing and training using trucks of mine that I have been collecting over the years. He has become an impressive driver and we decided it was time to give me back my old used trucks and give him an updated upgrade. Personally I think we hit the nail on the head. I had to pry it out of his hands to bring it to work the following day because a friend wanted a demonstration. He is thinking about getting his son a r/c truck and had no clue on where to start. It also gave me the perfect opportunity to take a few pictures before the body got too terribly thrashed.
 
I plan on having our r/c track completed by the end of the August at the latest. I fear that upon it’s completion that we may never see him again, ever. My neighbor asked why I was building a r/c track in my back yard a few months ago. I laughed and then answered “why not”. Why not indeed. We need a place to tear up that is close and cheap. I’m tired of paying track fees and driving so far to race on good tracks. So, I’m bringing the track home. I will write a post here in the near future and throw in a few pictures. My wife has me considering opening the track to the “general public”. There would be some logistical problems tho as the track is in my back yard. We’ll have to see.
 
My wife asked where a boy’s interest in racing anything with wheels comes from. I had to think about it because it is, however, somewhat of a complex question in itself. Obviously, racers aren’t born. Many will disagree with me of course. I have heard it all before. People say “he was born with gasoline in his veins” or “he was born to race” or “racing is in his blood”. I will give it all one thing, their are people born with natural racing skills and there are people that are not. Those in between are the ones the world is actually made up of. It’s made up of kids with an interest and a dream, everything else is practice, practice, practice. Take me for an example. I grew up around the “toys” of my father. He had the r/c planes, the motorcycles, the fast cars, the hot rod boats, and of course, the ultralights which were his passion. Fortunately I was rarely told no. Fortunately I had a dad who wanted to share his toys with me. What did this do for me? It helped make me very practiced in many different things, most of all it taught me how to work with my hands, and it also taught me how to be my own mechanic.
 
Now, take my son for example. He has learned from a very early age the importance of being able to diagnose and fix problems. He has also learned that there isn’t always a solution for every problem. Some things are just meant to be a mystery. He is with me most of the time when I’m not at work. I enjoy him being with me and doing things with me, no matter what it is we are doing. I think he likes being with me also, even when we are doing nothing at all. He took an interest early on in my r/c trucks because they hung on the wall of my shop like the heads of dead animals. One day he asked to see one with his hands, he wanted to touch it, smell it, and see it up close. I figured it can’t hurt. Well, it took off from there. I have gas and electric r/c cars, some worked and some died years ago. I made a deal with him that if he could get one of the “dead” ones back to having a pulse again and get it breathing again that I would buy replacement parts if needed. I wasn’t interested in throwing money into something that would never have the heart to race again. He did it, not really to my surprise because if someone was going to be able to figure it out it was going to be him. I had three that were dead, one gas and two electric, and now they belong to my son who races them frequently. Time went by and I could see his interest has grown so we decided to take the plunge and get him his very own r/c truck.
 
I see already that I will need to install some stadium style lighting at our little backyard track because for the last couple of nights he has been out racing his new r/c truck by moonlight. Only time will tell.
All pictures provided in this post were taken by me and are the exclusive property of me. If you were thinking of visiting the website found on the front fenders of this truck you will be very disappointed as it is a fictitious website which was used for the purpose of graphic display only. You won’t find anything there except a blank non-existent page.