Winning the Turkey

I was in high school in Georgetown during early World War 2 There were many pressures to encourage teens to move toward the armed forces. There was Cadets as a required activity in high school. Uniforms had to be kept neat and clean and worn all day one day each week. On that day, there was training and a parade and inspection on the playing field. The cadet commander (major) and the second-in-charge (captain) were my next-door pal, Jim Kirkwood, and me. Both from Ballinafad, out of town, in the boonies. What was that about?

That led to invited use of the indoor rifle range at the Lorne Scots armoury in Georgetown. Rifles supplied were Enfield military rifles with a .22 tube inserted in the barrel. The extractor did not work because of the insert but one of these rifles was highly accurate. As more bait, I was allowed to sign it out and take it home for my own target practice.

A neighbour had a turkey farm about a mile from the village. Someone organized a turkey shoot for Thanksgiving weekend. There would be a contest in which you could fire a shotgun and compete for the greatest number of shot holes in a standard sheet with a standard shot size. No skill. Just a tight choke would win. There also would be a contest with heavy deer rifles and one with .22’s.

I was now out from under the earlier severe parental constraints on use of guns. Simply because anything related to the armed forces was highly overrated by my Dad. So I took my army rifle, borrowed from the local militia, and entered in the .22 contest. The prize was a 27-pound turkey from the Willett’s farm where the shoot was held.

On the first round, I tied with Vic Swindlehurst, a local garage owner who spent a lot of time working on and firing rifles. I surprised a lot of neighbours. We both had punched the edge of the central ring on the target – the ‘X-ring’. A shoot-off was required. Vic repeated his edge of the X-ring but I punched out its centre and won the turkey. Mother had some trouble fitting it into a roasting pan and my ego certainly would not have fitted.