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Remembering Dick Turpin

How to Tell a Story

Calling Dick Turpin a hunter education coordinator, turkey call maker, conservation officer, entertainer, songwriter or any of his other titles fails to describe who he was — a person who made you feel good when he was around. Regardless of what hat Turpin was wearing when you met, you would forever remember one of his greatest gifts was that of a storyteller. Long-time staffers at Nebraskaland agree that while PG-rated Dick Turpin stories were good, his R-rated tales were the best.

A master of language and creativity, Turpin displayed his extensive outdoor experience with his Turpin Time videos from 2004-2010. While we’ll never be able to do justice to how well Turpin could tell a story, we can pass along some of our favorite tips from his Turpin Time video segments about a subject he remained passionate about his entire life — the Nebraska outdoors.

The Following Tips Edited by Nebraskaland Staff

Spoon Lures

While I was cleaning my camping gear awhile back and shining up the silverware, I got to thinking how those silver-plated spoons would make good fishing lures. So I took some of them home, and I drilled holes in the ends so I could hook my line in and of course, my hook. And then I took a grinder, took the spoon handle off, and I ground that smooth, and I narrowed it up so it made a little more of a spoon shape like the commercial fishing lures — like a Daredevil or something like that.

After I put the split ring and the hook in the end … boy, they made a terrific spoon lure that really flashed in the water when you cleaned up
that silver.

I got to thinking with all the grandkids I have and them throwing those 3- to 5-dollar lures out and snagging them up, that homemade lures was a more economical approach to teaching kids how to fish. You could sit down and make 50 of these so fast it would make your head swim.
I got some fishing buddies who tell me: “Sometimes you’ve got to spoon feed those bass.” So that’s what I do.

Save That Safety Pin

If you’re one of those fishermen who has a little trouble with backlash in a spinning reel or bait casting reel or those little knots in monofilament line, here’s a good tip: Carry a large safety pin.

When you unsnap the pin, you’ve got a sharp point that will pop them knots right out. It works well. Some people use a round toothpick, but I think the safety pin works better because you can hook it to your shirt
or wherever.

Also, you can use a regular safety pin if you want to, but I kind of like a personalized snag catcher. I’ve got a little teddy bear on mine that, with my worsening eyesight, it’s easier to find when I drop it.

Turkey Beard Momento

Just as antlers represent the memory of a successful deer hunt, spring turkey hunters enjoy displaying the bird’s beard. Here’s a little craft idea that preserves that gobbler’s growth — a turkey beard momento.

Take that casing you shot that bird with and punch the primer out on the top with a long nail and hammer. It leaves you a hole to put your strapping into because that’s the next thing you’re going to do.

Tie a loop knot in it and leave yourself enough loop to make a hanger with it. Then, take a little piece of wire, or a long nail, and shove this loop down into the casing out through the primer hole.

Next, get a little dowel plug as a spacer and push it down against the knot. Then fill the rest of the shell with five-minute epoxy, and you’ve got yourself a little piece of memorabilia.

I wonder if an old turkey like me could grow a beard that long.

Starting Fire

Two things here — to start a fire quickly, take the lint out of your dryer and stick it in a small container with a lid. Stick that in your pocket and when you want to build a fire, jerk about half of that out of there and put it down inside your little wood tipi. Strike that and it’ll burn hot for quite a little while but not very long. But this next tip does.

Sprinkle a little sawdust in an egg carton and take hot paraffin and pour that in the egg carton. It saturates the sawdust. Once it starts to set up, I put a little more sawdust on top of it and kind of scrunch it down. Don’t burn your finger.

When that sets up all you have to do when you want to start that fire is tear a chunk of that off and throw it in your fireplace where you got your stick tipi. Strike that carton and get it going, that wax burns, that sawdust burns, and it burns hot and it burns for a long time.

Dick Turpin as conservation officer.

The 5-Gallon Bucket

I’ve lost count, but you can re-use five-gallon buckets for about 400 purposes. Here’s one that dog owners and gardeners might find useful.
Take a sharp knife and cut the bucket into two parts, about four inches from the bottom. The bottom of these buckets make good dishes to water the hunting dog. Just throw it in the back of your truck, and you’ll alway have it. But what are you going to do with the top part? When I put my tomatoes in, I’m going to put the top part of the bucket over one of those plants so it’ll keep the bunnies out. They have enough to eat — they don’t need to eat my tomatoes.

Air Freshener

You can freshen up your vehicle by using scented laundry dryer sheets. I place them around on the floor and up in the vents. My old truck holds a lot of memories for me and the missus. If I get it smelling good again, I might ask her out for an ice cream cone … take her for a little ride.

Fishing Boat Magnets

A handy item to have in your fishing boat is a magnet. I have a 100-pounder. Hook a sturdy line to it — say 25 or 30 feet — and boy, howdy, use these things around a dock and you’d be surprised by the things you’ll pick up just dabbing around. I’ve picked up wrenches, cigarette lighters, fishing lures, pliers … just a myriad of things.

It’s fun, but be careful. I was out once on a lake and hooked onto something that almost felt like fighting a fish. When I got it up, I had a beautiful mermaid hooked right by the belt buckle. My wife made me throw her back.

Fun for Kids in Wintertime

Here’s a little game you can do in the wintertime to get the kids out of the house: Take some half-inch plywood and cut out a few big feet like Sasquatch. Then, go out in the timber and lay out a trail in the snow — weave it — and then at the end of the trail, build a nice big bonfire and have all the materials you need for s’mores.

While you’re following the trail with the kids, you can show them squirrel, rabbit, deer and turkey tracks … whatever you run onto. This activity provides great outdoor education.

Backing Up Trailers

Boat ramps and camping pads can be frustrating on a busy Saturday or Sunday because some people have difficulty backing up a trailer or boat. Let me give those folks some advice: Don’t concentrate at the top of the wheel or edges, concentrate on the bottom of the steering wheel because my guarantee is whichever way you turn that steering wheel from the bottom is the way your boat is going. Keep your hand on the bottom of that wheel and that’s how you’re going to do a better job of backing that trailer in.

A Secret Compartment

Is there a message from the past or a tiny piece of memorabilia in your gun stock? Your granddad’s old gun, for example, may have a hollow place in the stock. They’d put shot in there to keep it from kicking or they might put a note or some little trinket in there, so check that old gun.

Keep from Falling on Ice

I suffer from ice elbow, like tennis elbow, anytime I slip on the ice and fall. I have cleats and everything else, but here’s another addition. I fill an old coffee can with sand, and then when I’m on the ice, I’ll scatter this around those areas where I walk a lot to keep me from falling.  ■