Ray Eye Returns

Just a few short months ago, some of Ray Eye's closest friends feared the worst--Ray might not be able to climb the hills to chase turkeys again. Laid low by a freak backyard accident, it took several surgeries, skin grafts and physical therapy for Eye to get back on his feet. And on his feet he is. Here is the story and photos of Ray's first fall turkey hunt on the comeback trail in his own words... This is a short story, a fairy tale like story about an old, out-of-shape Gimp...and his wonder dog, Peanut.... at 6 AM on this morning, this old guy just wouldn't listen to his lovely wife Jan, and stay home...stay out of the pouring rain and cold and go back to bed...
All alone , with no one to guide, no one to call for...it was just too rainy, damp & cold to run his beloved video camera...
With his side kick and part time 'turkey dog,' Peanut , at his side, he drives his big Green machine and Bad Boy Trailer toward the Missouri Ozarks and Iron County.
He is determined to make it to Johnson Mountain just after daylight--his turkey hunting haunts as a small boy ...
Just after daylight--fog and rain engulf the "Mountain" hiding its peak and our old dude's destination.
Heading up the Mountain road ....stopping to call and listen on the way to the top ....Higher and Higher they climb...in 4-wheel drive, fighting mud as they go... Still climbing, the road is steep and rough. Fog is just ahead, covering the mountain... Finally making it to the top, the old guy unloads his Bad Boy and heads down a narrow two-track road--his destination is the first flat bench on the side of the Mountain. Once on the bench, he parks where two old roads meet--one road, barely visible, goes back down the mountain toward his Grandfathers old home place. The other road twists and turns down toward the old community church in the valley far, far below. As a much younger man this was always one of his favorite turkey hunting places on the Mountain. Well, the rest of the story is much more like a fairy tale. Hours later and on his fourth stop and set up in the rain, with his little Doggie companion nestled in his lap, he works his turkey calls, leans back against the old Oak and reminisces of days of old at this very place...
That is until interrupted by yelping and cutting from just below the ridge. Suddenly 5 or 6 big black bodies come trotting fast, rocking back and forth as they break over the rise in the old logging road and up onto the bench from where they had come many times before.
The rain falls and fog closes in as a gun shot echo's across the mountains...

A few months ago, Outdoor Life told you about the plight of turkey hunting legend Ray Eye. Severely injured in a freak accident, Eye battled the odds and took to his beloved Ozark woods to hunt again.