Bodey Knupp has more to do in his retirement paradise than he ever did when he was working for a living.
Knupp three years ago sold out his interest in a garage in Arlington, where for decades he had worried over generators, mufflers, brakes and alignments.
But the hours aren't much better on 250 acres near his childhood home in the Massanutten range in Virginia. The roosters awake at 3:30 a.m. in these final days of standard time, and it's not long afterward that Knupp rousts himself from the 20-foot RV he calls home.
His tenants are hungry. The huge, stately, half-wild tom turkey who lords over the lawn wants his grain, as does his harried hen. Ducks are quacking at the pond.
There are rabbits to feed and guinea hens beyond numbering. The chickens expect breakfast and three horses are thundering across the pasture, demanding hay and oats.
And, of course, there are farm dogs and cats, and wild deer and geese that drop in when the hunting seasons are over.
During the seasons there are hunters to feed. Knupp opens his Elysium to friends from his days in Arlington and what's his becomes theirs. That means staying in the 200-year-old shanty that once served as home to a dirt farmer, with meals at the 30-foot table that is the centerpiece of the one-room lodge Knupp built of oak and pine.
Knupp's estate is vintage Sanford and Son. Castoff tools, cars, trucks, motorcycles, lanterns furniture, pictures, animals, trailers, boxes and bargains are everywhere.
Old trailers are clustered about the lodge; Knupp rents them to families and young folks - "helps pay for the feed for my animals," he says.
Deer season is frantic, the hunters who share Knupp's place say, with barbecues and parties every weekend.
But this is another season, spring turkey time, and the gunners who visit these days are serious, purposeful and largely unsuccessful.
No one is largely successful on turkeys, anyway. But the big birds are there, as Mike Gardell found on a five-day outing.
Gardell spent last week combing the ridges of Massanutten in search of the statuesque gobbler. Spring season is closed on nesting hens but the supercharged toms, flushed with mating fever as they preon and posture in the hills, are fair game.
Gardell bagged his turkey on the third day. He lured a 15-pound tom off a ridge with clucks on the mouth diaphragm manipulates to sound like a lovelorn hen.
It was his second shot in the three days and his last of the hunting week. The first turkey he drew in range was too quick; Gardell's shot grazed its back and the bird was gone.
This time he made no mistake, even though the tom caught him napping. Gardell was taking five for a smoke; suddenly the turkey appeared 100 yards off in the brush. Gardell snubbed out his cigarette, lowered the camouflage veil over his face and snapped the safety off his 12-gauge.
He watch the big bird come in; when time was right he shot him in the puffed breast, then stood and finished the bird with a head shot.
Now Gardell was leading me through the dark before dawn. Trails are marked in Knupp's woods by junked cars he has towed to cross-roads to provide shelter for his hunting friends.
We left the rusted wagon to our right and trundled past a '51 Ford. The beam of Gardell's searchlight picked out the camouflage blind he had built around a tree stump.
The woods wer silent as we settled in. As dawn's first rays punched over Massanutten, Gardell mouthed the little diaphragm and clucked five times.
The big gobbler responded instantly, blasting across the ridge like a clock radio gone amok. Gabbleggabblegabblegabblegabblegabble.
He was 200 yards away across a hillside and it was as close as we would get all day. For an hour we sat locked on little stools, not switching a muscle. Gardell clucked and cackled and gobble gobbled and gabbled, but we never saw him.
Later we walked back along a creek bed, way out of range, tiptoeing over twigs and rocks. We circled the big turkey to come up above him."Turkey will never come down the hill to you; but he'll come uphill," Gardell promised.
But turkey was smarter than us, and somehow he heard or saw us coming. When Gardell clucked from our new vanyage point the gobble was far across a second ridge, moving away.
We tailed, or tried to trail, the tom till closing hour at 11 a.m. We trudged diligently through the woods, stopping in the hot morning sun for a drink of spring water, a few clucks, a doze under a newly green oak tree.
We climbed ridges and scrambled down hillsides, ears perked for sounds fo the bird thrashing through the damp brush.
And by noon we were back at the lodge, cutting hunks of sandwhich meat off a deer haunch, warming beans on the old gas stove.
"Well, where's my turkey?" Knupp demanded.
"We didn't get one, but we sure got close," said Gardell. "We had him gobbling up by Shale Hill."
"That wasn't no wild turkey," Knupp chuckled, pointing out the window. "That was my half-wild tom."