Monday, March 28, 2011
James 'Turkey Jim' May
I come from some pretty amazing people. Here is a story about my great-great-great-great Grandfather (I think that's the right amounts of great, but don't hold me to it!). James May was particularly well-suited to his times and environment. In an era when formal education was not a necessity in the hills of Kentucky, he was a natural man, educated in the ways of nature. His reputation as a hunter earned him the nickname 'Turkey Jim' among men who were themselves skillful hunters of the elusive turkey. The following incident was related by Alfred Davis. Mr. Davis heard some turkeys gobbling in the woods on his farm. He told Turkey Jim, who then scouted the area and said he would return before daylight the next day. Early the next morning a single shot came from the woods. Alf Davis told his family that Jim May had probably killed two turkeys with that shot. In a few minutes Turkey Jim came out of the woods with two gobblers slung from his muzzle-loading rifle. He dropped them at Alf's feed and told him to take his choice. The turkeys appeared to be identical in weight and size. Mr. Davis hefted them, made an arbitrary choice, and handed one back to Jim. Turkey Jim had waited for the gobblers to come down from the tree roost (which he had located the previous day) and patiently watched them strut back and forth beneath the roost. When two of the biggest gobblers strutted past each other Jim shot them both. Since he was using a muzzle loader, one shot was all he could get. Turkey Jim continued to use a cap and ball rifle after most hunters had gone to repeating rifles with encased cartridges. Turkey Jim hunted all his life. When he became too feeble to hunt on foot he hunted on horseback. From the story 'Sketch of James May' by Henry L. May, Volume II of 'The May Families of Eastern Kentucky.