Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Sports

May 4, 2014

MARTINO: From poacher to preservationist

Adams Auto Group to host benefit bass tourney on May 17

It’s interesting how sometimes a person’s ideologies can change during his or her life. Indiana’s spring turkey season had begun and the weather was crisp and clear, perfect for hearing the big birds gobble.

Les, now pushing 80 years old, was a farmer in Owen County. As we sat in lawn chairs sipping coffee in his backyard overlooking the rolling countryside, he reflected on how his life had been intertwined with the wild turkey. “Now don’t be puttin’ this in some newspaper,” he began with a laugh.

He told how his father taught him to hunt as a young boy and tried to instill in him a respect for the game he sought. “We hunted deer, squirrels, rabbits, quail and anything else that would provide a meal for the family,” he said. But he particularly liked hunting wild turkeys.

He shot his first bird many years ago, before most even considered turkey hunting. It was a hen and turkeys were not legal to hunt. Although he had done it against the law, it provided a good meal. He began taking other game out of season as well, but he justified it because they were collected on their property and the game was used to provide for his family.

Les’s father died of cancer when he was still young and as the years passed he soon lost the principals he had been taught. He began taking wild game anytime he could with complete disregard of bag limits. For him, it didn’t matter if hunting season was in or not. He would keep what he needed and give the rest to his neighbors.

“The only seasons I cared about back then were salt and pepper,” he said with a laugh, pulling an old brown pipe from his shirt pocket.

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