5 years ago 

• I met John Ernie in the late 70’s, introduced by friends coming to Clearwater Lake to buy gunboats and Johnson outboards. It took few conversations before you knew much of the man that would come to symbolize the best of Ozark culture.

He was truly a man of his word, believed in hard work and hard play, and hated trash. Whether it was on the edge of the lake or the road, trash more than perturbed him.

He and his wife Carole came to Ellington from Bourbon in the 50’s to oversee and then run the new Paramount cap factory. He purchased Webb Creek Boat Dock in 1965, believing the summer-oriented business would provide both a good living for his family and ample time in the fall and spring for his passion for the outdoors. (Rick Mansfield)

• “Do you turkey hunt?” Joe Staughn asked in his low rough, gruff voice. I told him I had never been taught how to call properly and so I had never tried spring hunting.

“I’ll teach you… if you want to learn,” Joe answered in his typical, blunt fashion, flashing a big, sudden grin. A successful businessman, farmer, hunter and angler, Joe also served as a city councilman at the time I had just started working for the Farmington newspaper as a reporter covering city meetings. (Doug Smith)

10 years 

• Turkey hunting can be very frustrating. Especially if you are hunting Ol’ Craz, the dumbest, most magnificent gobbler in the Ozarks.

Last year was especially bad. I’d taken two weeks of vacation to devote to Ol’ Craz and though he gobbled at me every morning, the woods fell silent soon after that and I didn’t hear from him again until the next morning.

It was on the 24th day that I finally figured out what was happening. You’ll recall that Ol’ Craz (Old Crazy) is so dumb he goes AWAY from the call of a turkey hen. Typically, if he comes in at all it will be after calling ceases, whether from real hens or fake hens with guns. (Bob Todd)

• At three feet tall, the turkey’s head appeared as ugly as sin. Wild turkeys are a colorful, beautiful bird, but more so at a distance. Inside 10 feet the birds take on a ghoulish look. The grossly wrinkled head, the baggy waddles and that stretchy nosepiece called a snood is something out of science fiction. However, there seems to be a trend in today’s turkey hunting crowd to miss these up-close, in-the-face turkey encounters. (Bill Cooper)

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