Interview with a Turkey . . . Hunter

“A Turkey Hunter’s First Shot”:
A Look into Allison Glock’s Turkey Hunt in Garden & Gun

turkey

I am standing between rows and rows of palmetto bluff pines. My ears are open to the crackling chirps of crickets, as they stretch out their legs, and I can feel the strap of the Benelli rubbing through my camouflage shirt against my collarbone. This is the picture that Allison Glock has painted for her readers in her article in the 2012 February/March issue of Garden & Gun.

I live in a household which devotes an entire closet to camouflage suits, insulated rubber boots plus a number of turkey calls, and April means one thing to my family—turkey season. In Virginia, gobbler hunting begins April 12th and runs until May 17th, with the exception of Youth Hunt Day on April 5th. Though my roots are down in South Carolina, I know what this short time span means to many Virginians. For hunters, the month brings the morning excitement of setting up against a tree with a box call and then waiting for turkeys as the rest of the forest begins to wake up. For the children of hunters (I fall into this category), this month means choosing to wake up on a Saturday morning rather than sleeping in, learning the precise angle of a striker on a slate call, and hoping that all the target practice in March paid off.

In “A Turkey Hunter’s First Shot,” Glock interviews turkey hunting legend, Jay Walea. With a descriptive account of her turkey hunt and a new-formed friendship with Walea, Glock forgoes the conventional interview style and conveys the true turkey hunting experience to her readers—even for those who wouldn’t know a tom from a jake.

The article portrays the turkey hunt with such descriptive narration from the outdoorsman himself that the reader is practically on the hunt as well. At one point, Walea says, “You hear the flying squirrels peeping. You’ll hear a screech owl once or twice. The first little birds to chirp are the redbirds. Watching everything come alive. I love that.” Many writers would embellish the atmosphere of the woods or the serenity of the morning, but in Walea’s account there is no exaggeration. Unlike a writer, a turkey hunter wouldn’t normally comment on dewdrops on leaves or thickening pines. A turkey hunter focuses on sounds, because after all, they’re listening for the gobblers. Because the interview directly quotes its subject’s exact words, his depiction of the morning is precise, efficient, concentrated on the necessary.

Glock not only relays the beauty of the woods, but also goes beyond the impersonal, by forming an authentic relationship with Jay Walea. Of all the interviews I have read, given and seen, whether in a fitness magazine or on the Today Show, the majority of interviewers stick to basic, objective conversation, keeping their subjects at distance. However, she makes an honest effort to really know and understand Walea; Glock moves past his appearance and background to a more intimate level where she describes his words and actions, and even eats dinner with his family. At one point towards the end of the story, when Glock has mixed emotions about killing her first turkey, she writes, “Walea looks at me with pity. He takes a deep breath, finds my eye again, and says softly, ‘I’ve cried too.’” Then, the hunter hugs the writer, who has formed such a sound friendship with Walea that he admits crying shooting an animal before, and in return, she conveys that sentiment to the reader.  Glock’s article goes beyond the superficial interview and treats her subject as a friend rather than an assignment.

Glock’s “Turkey Hunter’s First Shot” is an outstanding piece of writing because it uses expressive language and a personal relationship to help non-hunting readers understand the experience of stalking, calling and shooting. While not a candidate for great hunting literature, Glock’s piece is far more vivid than casual journalism.

Interested in Glock’s article? Follow the link—

http://gardenandgun.com/article/first-shot

About Anna Dibenedetto

Anna Dibenedetto is a junior English major with a minor in Creative writing at Washington and Lee.  She is from Greenville, S.C., but hopes to migrate to NYC and flourish in the magazine industry.

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