Veteran turkey hunters will tell you that the ungainly-looking bird is among the most difficult prey to stalk. The crafty gobblers are preternaturally sensitive, able to detect the faintest sounds a careless hunter makes, and they can easily move out of the danger zone before you get a bead on them. It takes a dedicated and cautious woodsman to get the drop on a turkey, yessir.
Of course, as General Zaroff argued, Man is the most dangerous game. The high intelligence, the opposable thumbs, the ability to call in an air strike these formidable characteristics make man-hunting a challenge that few sportsmen would ever attempt, even if there weren't a whole raft of laws that make the practice illegal.
And so you have to feel a certain amount of pity for the kids who participate in the Turkey Shoot in the Park at White Birch Park (1186 Teson Road, Hazelwood; 314-839-5575). Not only are they armed with just a paintball gun, but they venture into the woods in search of the most diabolically tricky game on the face of the earth: a man dressed as a turkey.
Ostensibly, the idea is to teach kids how to use a paintball gun and provide a little fun in the autumn's gloaming. But it seems like these kids are going to be humiliated. How can an inexperienced shooter hope to bring down this hybrid man-turkey horror? But real men are forged in the crucible of disappointment, so bring Junior to the park at 11 a.m. Two bucks gets you 30 shots, and no personal paintball guns are allowed. Sorry, Li'l Deadeye. Paul Friswold
Home Away from Home
Billikens stray to play
When is a home opener not a home opener? When the home team's not playing at home. The Saint Louis University Billikens would open their season at Savvis if the Blues weren't "playing" there. So instead, the Bills break the seal on the 2005-2006 season with an odd 7 p.m. home game at the Family Arena (2002 Arena Parkway, St. Charles). The Billikens' 9 win-21 loss record last year shows room for much improvement, as does the 12 win-16 loss season posted by the opposing Eastern Illinois University Panthers (still, the Panthers only won two away games last year, so the Bills have more than a fighting chance). Tickets are $13 and $23 and are available through MetroTix (www.metrotix.com) or through the Family Arena box office (636-896-4242). Jedidiah Ayres