The Rx For A Turtle Meal

My Dad (Pop) used to tell me about a large loggerhead turtle he and some of his friends caught while on a fishing trip to Lagle Lake (Creek) years ago. He never described any details of the capture, but just the fact the turtle was huge, and the men all got a meal from it. He always said, “A turtle has 7 kinds of meat, and each one of them is delicious.” I always believed him but never tested his assertions by having a meal of turtle. In an email conversation several years ago with Isaac Wilson, Jr. I received more information concerning the event which he well remembered and reprint it here with Ike’s permission. As a young boy Ike was there at Lagle Lake with his Dad, Isaac Wilson Sr. who was Pop’s best friend.

The camping and fishing party on Lagle Lake included Pop, Ike Wilson and son Ike Jr., Ike’s brother in law John from Illinois, and JC Pendleton from El Dorado. JC was the owner and manager of Griffin Auto Company in El Dorado which was the Chevrolet dealer for the area. Here is a reprint of the email sent on January 15, 2018:

“When I was young your Dad, along with my Dad, my mother’s brother John from Illinois, and JC Pendleton had gone to Lagle Lake. That evening we set out trot lines and yo-yo’s. The next morning we woke up with your Dad yelling, “Bring my medical bag!” It scared us all as we knew he was out in the boat, fearing something tragic had happened. We hurried and got into a boat to try to reach him. When we found him we could see he was holding the trot line, and we knew he must have caught a big fish. The “big fish” was pulling his boat through the water, but we discovered that it was actually a big loggerhead turtle hooked on the trotline. 

When your Dad started pulling the turtle up I remember the turtle opening his mouth and it looked like a whirlpool of water rushing through it. We still couldn’t quite tell how big the turtle was, but knew it was huge. Your Dad yelled, “Give me my bag, and I’ll take care of this turtle!” He pulled out a bottle of pills and managed to pour the entire bottle down his throat. He dropped the trotline which we hadn’t expected. Dr. Moore told us the turtle would be taken care of in about 45 minutes, and we could come back and retrieve the trotline, turtle and all. When we went back the turtle was lifeless. We tried to get the turtle into the boat to no avail. Because of his weight and size we were afraid he’d tip the boat over or sink it. We took a rope and tied the turtle to the bow of the boat and headed to shore. When we made it to shore we were able to drag him up the bank, and I remember his back looking like it was about 2 1/2 feet wide. It had to weigh at least 150 + pounds. It’s back was covered with green slime and a couple of inches of mud. Your Dad took the turtle, flipped it over and started field dressing him. He described each part as he dissected him. We had turtle for dinner that night.

My Uncle John from Illinois wanted the shell. We thought he was crazy, but a few years later when my parents and I went to Illinois we saw he had made a small coffee table from the shell. The finished work was a beautiful shell that looked like leather.

Thank God for Dr. Moore’s medical bag!”

Ike Wilson Jr. has become quite a story teller just like his Dad, and I was so thankful to get the more complete account of the Loggerhead turtle meal down on Lagle Lake so many years ago. I have wondered what kind of pills Pop poured down that turtle’s throat that morning, and believe they were Dilaudid pills which Pop usually kept in his bag when he made house calls. They are very potent narcotics and certainly would have killed the turtle in a short time. Presumably the narcotic didn’t have time to get out into the turtle meat, otherwise there might have been some seriously ill fishermen on the shores of Lagle Lake that night!

Dr. John