Ray Eye Goes Home

This is a short story about a turkey hunt , a turkey hunt on May, 5 2009 , but yet a trip back in time, back to yesteryear, back when life was much simpler, a trip back home to the hills, back to Johnson Mountain, back in time to relive my boyhood memories and my early days of turkey hunting.. I cannot put into words my experience of hunting alone this morning in the Ozark Mountains... To hear gobbling closing in--the spit-and-drum...movement in front of my gun...the sound of wings dragging over the rocks...the sounds of other turkeys gobbling across the mountains. There is nowhere in the world where gobbling sounds so wild--so exhilarating. The Ozark Ghosts were singing their love song in the rugged remote wilderness on this morning ... Then the echo from the sound of my gunshot disappearing into the distance, across the hills and hollers... A feeling I cannot describe, hunting the Mountain just as I did as a small boy ............ I was not able to hunt the area of Johnson MT where I took my first turkey, which was my plan. The road was gated and closed, hunters were parked at the other old road that leads to my tree of my 1962 hunt . But I also hunted this morning's area when I was a boy and after I got married. I hunted here with Sara, my daughter, when she was a little girl. I hunted here with my wife, Janet. It is the saddle between Johnson, Logan and Pruitt mountains--sacred ground I hunted there with my dad, grandpa , my uncle Lee, my cousins, brothers and friends from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and early 90s ........ I took a trip back home this morning
Glade on top of Pruitt Mountain , Tuesday, May 5 , 2009, 8 miles from the paved road.
No fields, only openings, Ozarks Glades , thousands of acres of timber and steep ridges
Finally, the rain quit. I stopped to take this picture at my old turkey camp, where the Banner road meets the 8 mile road, This is the camp from my story " The Game Warden" on my website and "Story time with Uncle Ray" on KFNS 590 the Fan.
In top of this photo is a picture of me , my gobbler and my soldier, my daughter Sara when she was a little girl, I've had this picture with me on all '09 hunts-- it goes everywhere with me.
I took this turkey in 1970, less than 50 feet from where the '09 bird is laying previous photo.
This gobbler was taken in 1978 on the same ridge
This turkey was taken in 1979, same ridge, but closer to the old roadbed-- about 100 yards from '09 bird.
The old Church, I wrote a story about the Church, published in Outdoor Guide and MOC mags.
The old church back in 1970--that is my 1952 Chevy , taken during turkey season 1970.
Bridge across Jane Creek on road to Grandpa's farm
Same bridge in 1970 turkey season , my cousin Wayne and a friend from my high school.
An old hand pump at Nicholson home place, neighbors of my grandparents over on the northwest side of Johnson mountain.
I called this gobbler for my buddy Ronnie Lawson.
Here's what is left of grandpa's farmhouse on east side of Johnson Mountain--my Dad, Aunts and uncles grew up in this house ... This is the house from my Story in Outdoor life Magazine "A Boys First Turkey."
The old walk bridge over the creek that leads to grandma's rock springhouse.
The old barn and creek I waded on my first turkey hunt back in 1962.
Grandpa's farm back in 1973, me in foreground. Pruitt muntain is in background. That saddle between the far hills is where I hunted this morning. I used to walk from there to top of Pruitt to hunt turkeys , I would die today.
This spring, I drank from mountain before daylight and trudged down with the sweet weight of a gobbler on my back.
This spring, I drank from mountain before daylight and trudged down with the sweet weight of a gobbler on my back.
The Eye family graveyard.
My grandpa and grandma Eye in the yard of their home on the edge of town. They moved here from the farm, after grandpa passed away. This is the yard my grandma told me my grandpa was the hen behind me and he actually called in my first turkey.
Showing grandpa and grandma my turkey--I brought them some dogwood from the mountain.
Me and my turkey dog Peanut.

When you're one of the best turkey hunters in the country, you rarely find the time to hunt on your own. When you do, the memories are all that more sweet.