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THE TURKEY SHOOT

It was a purposeful part of the traditional preparations for Thanksgiving among Americans of the last century—and in some rural areas it still is
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No sport could be more typically American than a turkey shoot. Ever since the Pilgrim fathers hunted the woods with blunderbusses our native bird has been a target for rural Nimrods. So when Charles Deas set about painting a typical American genre scene in 1836 he chose a shooting match for the Thanksgiving gobbler. It was a familiar sight to him in the Hudson River valley where he hunted, fished and sketched. The contestants and a kibitzing manservant cluster at the firing line while the hapless turkey stands a measured distance away. It was a jovial occasion of good fellowship, warmed by the little brown jug, with the winner taking home the holiday bird.

ILLUSTRATION

COURTESY OF PAUL MELLON