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The hunt for the perfect turkey involves searching for the ideal bird based on both price and size. Going out and getting one usually involves one trip to the grocery store. Armed with no more than the list of the people gathering around the table, the host has only to estimate the desired amount of meat required for leftovers, as cold turkey sandwiches are an important part of the Thanksgiving tradition in many families.
One annual White River Valley tradition was the turkey shoot. Bagging the biggest bird did not describe the more recent tradition of using self-basting bags over the turkey while cooking. It was an event that involved going out to shoot one’s own dinner and competing against other sportsmen to bag the bird. A sign posted on the bulletin board at the post office indicates that this tradition is back.
One of the old stories of the season was told by Mabel White in the Rio Blanco Historical Society’s “This Is What I Remember,” Volume II.
“A turkey shoot and pot-luck dinner on Lucious Shepherd’s parents’ ranch near White River City brought neighbors by foot, horseback or spring wagon to compete for live turkey. Marie Martin, Nina Boies, two girls who rode down from the Keystone Ranch and two others beside Mabel were the only women competing. Marie was very sure of her marksmanship and had the gobbler mentally ‘bagged’ and in the oven, but Mabel’s bullet was closest to the bull’s eye. The bird was carried home tied up in a gunnysack and provided Thanksgiving dinner for the Clarks and Spragues (parents of Blanche, Galatia and Harvey).
Another story in that same volume was the remembrance of rancher Al Ellison. The Tom Turkey remembered probably qualified for the annual feast because of his aggressive behavior rather than his size.
“Al Ellison stocked B.M. Vaughan’s ranch with all manner of fowl — ducks, geese, guineas, light Brahma and Plymouth rock chickens, large bronze turkeys, and a pair of beautiful peacocks. One day the big bronze turkey gobbler won a smashing victory over a handsome opponent. The mirror to May Ellison’s dresser had been detached and set in the yard at the Cross Bar Z ranch ready to load in a wagon for one of their moves to Al’s Powell Park ranch. Soon, ‘Sir Gobbler’ came strutting along and caught sight of his image. He could not allow another gobbler on the ranch. He broke the mirror.”
Happy Thanksgiving one and all.