The other day I came across an ad for shotgun shells specially designed for turkey hunting.
They cost $45 for a box of five.
I thought it was a misprint, so I called my hunting buddy and gobbler guru Clarence Dies to check. He said that’s correct – $45 for five – count ‘em five – shells.
At those prices, you don’t want to miss many shots.
Instead of leaving the shells in your hunting jacket, I assume they’re locked in a safe at the end of the day.
Maybe that’s where I’ve been going wrong all these years – I’ve been shooting cheap shells. No wonder I missed so many easy shots. I was shooting shells with lead pellets instead of gold.
But I have friends who kill lots of turkeys without having to take out a second mortgage. They shoot ordinary loads, not the expensive designer stuff imported from Paris.
Their turkeys seem plenty dead.
I suspect the high-priced shells are more about mind-set than about killing a turkey. Nowadays we seem to think that the more something costs, the better it is.
When was a kid, shells for my little .410 shotgun cost 10 cents apiece, or $2.50 for a box of 25. I never bought a full box.
I bought shells individually, five or 10 at a time. The Western Auto store, our hunting-supplies outlet, kept open boxes of different gauges on the shelf, and the clerk didn’t blink when a customer asked for singles.
Even at a dime apiece, shells were precious. One summer when I was barely big enough to hoist the gun, I shot at a rabbit in my grandma’s vegetable garden. I missed, and started crying.
Part of it was my frustration at missing (ask Clarence) and part of it was over wasting a valuable shotgun shell.
Grandma comforted and consoled me. She said everybody misses now and then. So I hitched up my overalls, and that afternoon when another rabbit hopped into the cabbage, I didn’t miss.
We had it for supper, completing the cycle of life: the rabbit ate our vegetables, and we ate the rabbit. I trust the statute of limitations on bagging an out-of-season bunny has expired.
Back to shotgun shells.
By my mid-teens, I was gainfully employed hauling hay, and could splurge on a full box. I remember the first one I bought – 25 sleek, red-plastic Winchester shells with bright brass casings.
When I opened the box, I felt like John D. Rockefeller.
Even after I could afford to buy shells by the box, I remained frugal. I guess that’s why I’m not much of a dove hunter – instead of feeling good about the five birds I hit, I feel guilty about the two dozen I missed.
I hate to think how I’d feel if I shot some of those fancy $45 turkey shells and didn’t ruffle a feather. Especially since my grandma’s not around to hug me and dry my tears.
Longtime outdoors columnist Larry Woody is a three-time winner of the Tennessee Sports Writer of the Year award and is the author of several books, including “Along for The Ride.” Woody covered NASCAR from the early 1960s until late 2007 in addition to SEC sports, minor league baseball, the Tennessee Titans and the Vanderbilt Commodores.