- Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 10:59
- Published on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 10:59
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The past few years I have been blessed with good health to turkey hunt each spring. Although my allergies can be debilitating at times I am still quite able to get around the hills of King George, chasing far off gobbles and hen clucks in search of a turkey. Those of you who turkey hunt know that sometimes you cover a lot of territory when chasing Mr. Tom and sometimes you have to do it quickly.
I enjoy calling birds more for others than for myself, and therefore I have spent the past few years trying to get one in close enough for my youngest daughter to close the deal. Alas, it has been frustrating. Turkeys don’t come whenever you want, trespassers and erratic gobbling last year put a hurting on our action, but most significantly, missing birds did us in.
My daughter, Kristy, made a few mistakes and did not get her cheek down the first time I called a bird up to her. The gun jumped up and bit her a little, and that left an impression on her. So, not only did she overshoot the first bird, but she became gun shy.
On the second bird that year she flinched as she pulled the trigger on a bird that was VERY close. Given that HeviShot is very tightly patterned in our guns, the load was pulled slightly right and carved out a sizeable section of a sapling and educated the bird.
The last bird was cleanly missed as she flinched again. This year Kristy has grown more than a few inches, put on some weight and we practiced a bit with her shotgun. Her confidence grew.
After a disappointing Youth Day in terms of gobbling activity, we hit the road again this past Saturday. The early morning activity was very sparse. We heard some distant gobbles but nothing that we could work with. I declared that we should head to the house, get breakfast and then hit the circuit once more afterwards.
That turned out to be the deal. Although we were all tired and full from pancakes and eggs, we called at a few spots with the same response as earlier in the morning. However, at our last location we saw a bird leaving the trail that we used going in. I decided to go in anyway and be as quiet as possible while setting up past where he left the trail. It turned out to be a great plan.
After we set up against a massive locust tree, with each of us facing a different direction, I began calling. My eldest daughter, Kayleena, told me she heard a gobble. Then I heard one, but it was far away.
I had a walnut box call I made from a piece of a tree we had on our land. It is roughly made but apparently was emitting the correct love tones. Things were quiet for us for a while. In fact, Kristy took a nap with her hat brim resting on her arms.
I figured a power nap would not hurt her, so I kept calling periodically before shutting things down. I told my other daughter to keep an eye out because I thought the birds might come in silently.
At 11:30 I started calling again. I knew the time was ticking. The season ended at noon. We thought we heard a hen far off but it soon quieted down as well. Finally at 11:46, I decided there was no reason to be bashful any longer. I worked the old box call I made, feverishly and poured it on. A gobbler sounded off far away but not terribly far. I sneaked a peek at the watch and figured there was no reason to be too quiet. Again I hit the call after waiting a minute. This time the gobbler was MUCH closer. By now Kristy was wide awake and moving her gun around towards where the thunderous roar came from.
“He is coming right in. Get ready!”
I hit the call again and nearly jumped from the volume of the response.
When the gobbler showed up it seemed to take my daughter a LONG time to see him. He was 27 yards away in the field but the grass was high and there was a slight rise and she was sitting slightly below me. I saw him fan and strut. Then he stood still and I hit the homemade call again. He perked up, strutted and stretched his neck out. At this point my heart was having a tough time staying in my chest. Kristy was not squeezing the trigger. She kept looking and looking and waiting and waiting and waiting, but I had no idea what for. I started talking to her. I was saying things like “shoot him.”
Then it was, “Do you see the bird?”
Then it was, “You need to shoot!”
No reply. I remember thinking that I was not going to go home a sane man anymore. I was terrified that the bird was going to walk off. Then I noticed the second bird. He fanned out and strutted. I could not believe our blessing.
“DO YOU SEE THE BIRDS? SHHHHOOOOOTTTTT!
Do they make a double bold caps to express my frustration?
My gun was still in my lap but my homemade walnut call was still in my hand. I eeked the paddle across the thin walls of the box call a tad and the turkeys both strutted.
My hair is MUCH grayer and even white now, but her bird flopped around and was down. Turkey hunting is always different no matter how many times you go out. You never know what will happen. I am thrilled to report that this was her first bird and it was quite large. Seeing Kristy smile as she admired her bird was worth every early morning, every miss and every time we sweated or got chilled trying to get a turkey for her. We have a memory that will never be forgotten. I cherish memories of my kids in the field far more than the times I have been in the field and experienced a successful harvest.
Author’s note: I have heard of several hunters with first time birds this year. Kenny Perrotte, an eighth grader at KGMS, was one such young man who also took his first bird this season. Way to go Kenny!