After we had unpacked and while the men were pitching the tents and getting supper I took Romer on a hunt up the creek. I was considerably pleased to see good-sized trout in the deeper pools. A little way above camp the creek forked. As the right-hand branch appeared to be larger and more attractive we followed its course. Soon the bustle of camp life and the sound of the horses were left far behind. Romer slipped along beside me stealthily as an Indian, all eyes and ears.
We had not traveled thus for a quarter of a mile when my quick ear caught the cluck-cluck of turkeys. “Listen,” I whispered, halting. Romer became like a statue, his dark eyes dilating, his nostrils quivering, his whole body strung. He was a Zane all right. A turkey called again; then another answered. Romer started, and nodded his head vehemently.
“Come on now, right behind me,” I whispered. “Step where I step and do what I do. Don’t break any twigs.”
Cautiously we glided up the creek, listening now and then to get the direction, until we came to an open place where we could see some distance up a ridge. The turkey clucks came from across the creek somewhere up this open aisle of the forest. I crawled ahead several rods to a more advantageous point, much pleased to note that Romer kept noiselessly at my heels. Then from behind a stone we peeped out. Almost at once a turkey flew down from a tree into the open lane. “Look Dad!” whispered Romer, wildly. I had to hold him down. “That’s a hen turkey,” I said. “See, it’s small and dull-colored. The gobblers are big, shiny, and they have red on their heads.”
Another hen turkey flew down from a rather low height. Then I made out grapevines, and I saw several animated dark patches among them. As I looked three turkeys flopped down to the ground. One was a gobbler of considerable size, with beautiful white and bronze feathers. Rather suspiciously he looked down our way. The distance was not more than a hundred yards. I aimed at him, feeling as I did so how Romer quivered beside me, but I had no confidence in Copple’s rifle. The sights were wrong for me. The stock did not fit me. So, hoping for a closer and better shot, I let this opportunity pass. Of course I should have taken it. The gobbler clucked and began to trot up the ridge, with the others after him. They were not frightened, but they appeared rather suspicious. When they disappeared in the woods Romer and I got up, and hurried in pursuit. “Gee! why didn’t you peg that gobbler?” broke out Romer, breathlessly. “Wasn’t he a peach?”