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With a Little Help from My Friends

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Mark Mansfield, left, and Jeff Lingrosso with their opening weekend north Georgia birds.
By Braden Arp

-- "What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and walk out on me? Lend me your ear, and I'll sing you a song. I will try not to sing out of key." No matter what genre of music you prefer, those lyrics penned by John Lennon and Paul McCartney of The Beatles are relevant to most everyone at some point in our lives. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we just need a little help, and what better place to find that help than from a friend?

Opening day of turkey season is a coveted tradition for some and the end of weeks of compulsion and anxiety for others. Be what it may, turkey season was here and there was no denying that.

Let me take a minute and give a bit of background information about our hunting club president, Mark Mansfield. Three years ago, Mark was involved in an ATV accident that left him banged up and out of commission for some time. Eventually, the wounds healed and he was back in the game on our 2,300-acre lease.

A year passed and his life was back to normal. Then, I can still remember someone saying that Mark was directly hit by a car full of teenagers in the middle of a crowd of people at an early season Friday night football game. We feared the worst and hoped for the best.

Later that evening, we found out that Mark and all of the teens had survived the accident but Mark had two broken legs. One of the teens was in intensive care where she later pulled through. I assure you, and so will Mark, that there are far worse things that could have happened that night than two broken legs.

Our club president was out of commission yet again. However, this time he faced a long, painful road to recovery. Several months passed and another visit to the doctor produced more news that lengthened his stay away from the field. "I have to have another surgery in February. The doctors said the pins in my legs were coming loose and have to be repaired," he told me.

So with Mark in recovery, turkey season came just as it does with the changing of the seasons in the Deep South. On the other side of the spectrum, sits his good friend Jeff Lingrosso, who is from Ohio and has never hunted turkey before. With Mark being an experienced turkey hunter, and Jeff willing to learn, they made quite a pair. Mark could barely stand for more than a minute or so, let alone walk through the woods.

Mark was determined to help his friend take a Georgia turkey and the plan was in motion. The two found a ground blind that sits on the edge of a food plot that they could drive to. Jeff helped Mark into the blind, parked the truck out of sight and came back to the blind. It wasn't pretty, but they were hunting!

Daylight came and immediately the action picked up. Eight hens flew down to the food plot and 13 jakes proceeded to accompany them. Jakes were yelping and attempting to gobble. Mark and Jeff had decided that a jake would be suitable for the situation.

Jeff fired first, and then Mark. Jeff had taken his first turkey, and Mark had announced to all in hearing distance with his Remington shotgun that he was indeed back in the game. Elated to say the least, Jeff collected both birds and hauled them back to the truck.

As he was making his way back to the truck, another tom sounded off in the distance. Without hesitation, Jeff hurried back to the blind where he found Mark engaged in an in-depth conversation with the gobbler. A few minutes passed, and the tom showed himself on top of the hill out in the clearing of the power lines. "The bird put on a huge performance for us," Mark said. "It strutted and gobbled, and when the turkey made it to the food plot, it drummed its way into range."

Jeff fired and downed a nice mature 10-inch gobbler.

Success is easy to define for some and harder for others. For some, it's been a long time coming and a hard road to get there, one that would have been impossible to travel without a little help from a friend.

--Braden Arp

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