By now you have probably heard the news that Nebraska outdoors has lost a legend. Dick Turpin passed on Feb. 2.
Another one of my heroes is gone.
If you have not seen the story that ran in the Omaha World Herald, it was a nice tribute to Dick,
Since he passed, I have read a lot of tributes from a lot of people. I need to write one too. . . .
First of all, EVERYONE knew Dick Turpin. What has struck me reading the tributes to Dick is that everyone had a personal, individual connection to him. That tells you a lot about the man.
Every time I saw Dick he would grin and call me “his other brother, Daryl”. You have to be a certain age to understand that reference.
I find it somewhat ironic that Dick passed on Groundhog Day. Having spent a little time predator hunting and plinking at prairie dogs with Turpin, I am sure he would have loved to lob a few rounds downrange at ole Unadilla Bill. What that would have meant as far as weather forecasts, I have no idea. I am betting Dick wouldn’t have cared, spring or winter, he would have been outdoors making the best of it.
Everyone has a Dick Turpin story or three to tell. Believe me, I do too. Can tell you a doozy that involves an outhouse and a road, but let me save that for some other time. . . .
Speaking of stories, Turpin was the best story-teller I ever knew. You better believe there are a bunch of us that would like to be a fraction of the bard that Dick was. My ribs hurt just thinking of some of those stories.
Dick wore so many hats here at the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission over the years. He was even an actor! My kids grew up watching Grandpa Can We Go Fishing?
They are grown now, Emily is married, but appropriately I met my offspring and spent a few days together on the ice fishing with them right after Dick’s passing. First fish was for Dick!
I was privileged to spend some time on the water with Dick too. We played hooky from work one fall day and tried to jig up some fish on a local reservoir. We just went fishing, no plans for how long we would stay out, what we would eat, nothing. Just fish. Sometime that afternoon, we were not catching anything and were getting kind of hungry. Turp suggested we quit and head for his place. Once we got there, we went to the garage; a deer carcass was hanging from the rafters. Dick pulled out a knife, whacked off a couple of steaks. We went inside, fried ’em up and ate ’em. Best deer I ever ate.
Who did not spend some time listening to one of Dick’s turkey hunting seminars? My Uncle Ivan started hunting spring turkeys in Nebraska when the state started having its first open seasons. He pretty much learned to hunt them by trial and error. I know for a fact that Dick Turpin and my uncle were the two best turkey hunters in the state. I am honored to have learned from both of them.
Unfortunately, I do not have any photos with Dick. However, I do have some mementoes. One would be the jigging spoons that Dick made. He was the king of basement tinkerers and could manufacture about anything. The jigging spoons were made of lead and he poured them himself. He used an old table spoon as the mold. I took his jigging spoons and added some accents to them, eyes, color, chrome, but I did not cover up his initials that were engraved in every one.
Of course I have a Turpin box turkey call. There are two box calls that ride in my turkey vest: One is the old Lynch box call that belonged to my Dad. The other is Dick’s. You will find some of Turpin’s pine rosin in my vest too–absolutely the best idea anyone ever had for “seasoning” box calls, way better than any chalk you might use.
The last time I saw Dick in person was last fall. I met him in the parking lot of a local establishment where he and his buddies liked to have coffee. He grinned, we talked briefly, they were heading fishing. It was a very good day. Every day I talked to Turp was a good day.
“Dry one off for me, Dick,”
Your other brother, Daryl.