Bosque de Las Almas turkey trot
"Done right, yeah it should just be one." He assured, removing his own hat and sticking it down into his pocket. Then, his attention was on the wooden box. It was a simple contraption, one he'd built himself.

No longer than a TV remote, but deeper than it was wide. Looked like a rectangular box, but where the top side would be, it was replaced by a paddle like a piece that was separate from the hollow box. Instead, it screwed onto one end of the box, covering the opening in the center, but leaving a half-inch of space. When Cliff grabbed the end of the paddle (which always reminded him of an oblong pizza board), he glanced to Maxine. "We'll cal em with this. Called a box call." He explained, shifting his weight onto one thigh as he sat against the cold earth.

"It'll mimic their calls. Like this." With that, he stuck his thumb against the edge of the box, pulling the paddle to the side in a windshield wiper motion, before scissoring it back to where it'd started, pressing down against it. The sound of the wood and the air being squeezed around it creaked in a shrill, choppy sound, not at all unlike the retching calls of a turkey.

here just look

She eyed the contraption--sorry, box call--in his hands, stifling a laugh when the shrill noise first sounded. What the hell, alright. "Alright," she said as much, hushed, brows melting low. A small drift to the wind had the bear deciding this was all nonsense that would've been easier on four legs, but Maxine denied that thought, nestling further against the ground beside him.

"And could you- Um," she gestured to the gun with her head. Prepare it for her?
It was a weird sound, one he remembered giggling at as a young kid when his dad used the same kind of box. Dad used to be able to make all kinds of insane complex sounds with the thing, nothing he'd ever been able to master. He was good at basic sounds, yelps and gobbles, and all that. Worked for the purpose of drawing them out. The prompting to get the gun ready was met with a small hum of agreement. Setting the box aside, for now, he grabbed it. Carefully, he pulled a box of turkey load from the bag. A few rounds slid in, and he cocked it, keeping the barrel pointed away.

"Kay, the easiest way is to let them come to us. So we'll get comfy. Hunting's a lot of waiting." He said, soft and low. Slowly, he moved so that he was down on his belly, still carefully holding the gun away, finger far from the trigger. He'd wait for her to get settled before moving the gun closer. "Alright, you're gonna shoulder it," He demonstrated by fitting the stock against his shoulder, the arm of that shoulder laying along the ground to help prop him up, "Keep this hand away from the trigger until you're ready to shoot." Though, he was sure she grasped the basics of gun safety. Said she'd shot before, just not a turkey. Though, he wasn't sure what kind of gun she'd shot before.

"Other hand comes up," He reached his left arm out, fitting his hand carefully beneath the barrel, "You'll lift, aim through the sights, make sure its steady. It'll be a spray, so you don't have to worry about getting it perfect, but always aim for the head. Just quicker and easier for everyone." He looked to her, smiling lightly with a lift of his brows, "Ready to try?"
Even the gun was camo. It got Maxine thinking that he'd borrowed all this equipment, but, hey, the opportunity to dwell was a luxury that was slipping from her in this moment . It was better to listen, so she did just that, really badly not wanting to mess this up.

Propped up on her elbows, she watched his demonstration carefully. And conveniently... this was actually how Maxine had shot before. With her second oldest brother. The most rigid out of the lot of them, she remembered him kicking out one of her legs as she lay in a field full of low-trimmed grass. Physically repositioning her, no joke, because he'd said something about how she needed the right posture or the ricochet wouldn't be gentle to her. Right? More positively, she also remembered she'd been a reliably good shot for someone who'd never handled a gun. Maxine had never really had any issues with hand-eye coordination...

But also, these were going to be moving targets. Gosh. Okay.

Was she ready! That had her gaze shifting from the gun and to his brows as they rose. "Yeah." Tentative but committed, her hands reached over his hold of the rifle, taking it if he'd let her. When she had it placed surely against her, she added apologetically, "What's aaa... spray, though? Is something going to spray?" Like out of the gun!?
Yeah. Perfect. He had faith that she'd ask if she didn't get something, so he didn't hesitate in handing over the gun. Careful, slow movements. Gun safety! When he was sure she had it, he pulled his hands away and pushed himself up to a low kneel to grab for the box call. The question drew his eye, "Just like any shotgun shot. It's a bunch of beads inside each shell, they'll shoot in a wide spread." He answered.
It had something to do with the bullet, like any shotgun shot! That made a lot more sense.

Maxine... hadn't known that.

Finding no need to be redundant, she didn't say anything after that. Just flashed a look of newfound understanding. Then she settled further against the gun, pressing it into the nook of her shoulder like he had. One deep inhale, and her eyes swept away and towards the sights, the thing that'd dictate a hit or miss. November's air felt colder than it should've reasonably been against her skin--nose, cheeks. Her lips felt frozen and pursed. Her heart drummed against the ground, not any quicker but definitely a whole lot louder to her ears.

"Not going to hate me if I mess this up for us, will you."
She understood. He nodded, shifting his weight a bit more comfortably, ready to wait this out. The question drew a small smile from him, "Only forever." He teased, moving to ready the call in his hands, but added, "But really, there's time. Also always store-bought." Even if he preferred fresh. In the end, if he had to come out again to bag another, he could. But he had faith in her, so. If she didn't have anything else to add, he set to work on maneuvering the paddle across the top of the box in short scissoring motions, the sound abrasive but very similar to a turkey's cackle. Loud enough to be heard from a mile away, though he could tell the flock wasn't that far off.

For a while, he settled into the quiet, letting time do the trick. He was just beginning to consider going in for another round of calls when movement below caught his eye. A hundred yards off, in the low brush of the sparse wood, a few round figures came slowly creeping through. Three hens, one tom. "Here they come." He said in a whisper, and slipped down onto his belly beside her. "Gonna aim for the big guy." He instructed, but fell silent. Turkeys didn't have especially great hearing, but better safe than sorry. He could hear them better than they could hear him and Maxine.
She tried to see the joke as reassurance, even smiling faintly to it, but it was hard to keep her eyes from going soft and sad. A joke probably wasn’t what she needed to hear right now, and that was selfish of her but true. Nerves were getting the best of her heart, while the bear’s instinct suffocated it from the outside.

It was an uncomfortable combination to lie in wait with. She stole whatever semblance of calm she could from Cliff, as king. She was growing to do that a lot, and that wasn’t great, either.

Point was, the flock couldn’t have come any sooner. Maxine stirred slightly, looking back through the sights. As per instruction, she lifted her other hand. ”Okay,” she whispered back in a single exhale.

Aim for the head, he’d said.

Maxine scrunched her face up, following the largest of the four. Easier than she’d expected when their movements weren’t erratic. Still, she waited patiently until it was looking like the turkey had stopped in his tracks. Finger tightened on the trigger until she pulled it properly, letting it go.

The gun ricocheted hard against Maxine, of course, but that felt irrelevant as she lifted her head away from it to survey the situation. As a writer’s note, it was more of an upper neck shot.
Oblivious that he'd fumbled handling her apprehension, he fell into silence as he watched and waited. Patient, not too worried about it. Mostly, he wanted her to succeed because he knew she'd be pleased with herself if she did. So, he held his breath, watched as she lined her shot up.

The sound of the gun was loud, probably louder than it should have been so close to sensitive ears. As it echoed across the open expanse, it left his ears ringing. The bear rustled in the back of his mind, for a rare moment pushing against the confines of his brain. Alert! Big noise! Rooooar! But he swallowed it down, focusing on the target that'd been on the other side of the blast. It wasn't ever a pretty sight when something didn't die immediately. From where they were, they'd clearly be able to see the flurry of feathers and legs as the tom hit the ground. The hens fled, peeling startled gobbles and leaving their protector to perish.

Grinning, Cliff rolled up from his belly, the ringing subsiding as he placed a hand on Maxine's shoulder, "Got 'im!" He cheered.
And then the world bled back in or something along those lines. He placed an undeniably real hand on her shoulder, and after Maxine had set the gun aside, she promptly dropped her head onto the ground to decompress.

"Oh my god," she let herself groan all her self-induced anxiety out.
He felt her tension melt away, grinning with his own different kind of prideful tension. As she dropped her face down, he laughed and moved onto his knees, tugging at the back of her jacket, "Breathe, Max, you're a natural." He reassured her. It hadn't been life or death, but he was still pretty proud of her for making the shot so well! Not perfect, but not a complete flub either.
Cliff’s laughs cut warmth into the air. She smiled small and tired, brows softening in a way which was maybe a little prideful.

”Just a lot,” she replied. A lot of pressure on herself, always. Pressure cooker Maxine, just waiting to erupt into a deafening whistle.

With his help she eventually dragged herself up onto her knees too, dirtied hands pressed against her thighs.
He got that. It was scary to do for the first time. "I get you. I think I might have cried the first time I shot." He admitted as he offered her a hand as he moved to stand. Hens had gone off by now, they just needed to trek down to get the tom. "I was also ten, so don't judge too harshly. You did a lot better than I did." It... had not been all that pretty.
Maxine took the help up, retrieving the gun too.

"You? Crying?" she repeated with an air of soft disbelief. Not that Cliff didn't ever cry. She was sure he did. But! She'd never seen it. "Thought I was the crier."
Psh, like he didn't cry. He wasn't afraid to admit it >:[. He'd almost cried after fight night, almost cried the night they first kissed. Not bawling, but hey, not much made him actually do that.

"Tsk, you don't cry enough to be called 'the crier'." He countered, moving to pull his hat from his pocket and fit it back on his head. Once she'd done the same, he would gesture for her to come along with him to walk down to the bird.
Except she really did. Maxine had two human reactions to conflict involving her. One was to punch, the other was to cry. Sometimes both at once! So productive.

"Alright. If I'm not the crier, what am I?" she asked. The cap came after the gun, and then she was following him out of the brush they'd settled in.
What was she? Good question. It had a million answers, some more gooey and gross than others. Lots of ways to answer, options to take the conversation. He settled on keeping it light, "The one with the good hair." He decided.

Hair? What! Maxine would’ve touched it subconsciously, but her hands were literally full. ”Good save,” she acknowledged, eyes narrowing.
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