Sunday, April 21, 2013

Young Hunter Scores Big Time...

 My 9-year old son, Garrett, shot his first turkey today and the excitement was something else. Today was his first time ever Spring gobbler hunting. The mentored youth hunting opportunities make for quite an adventure. The morning started with preparing all the necessary items to keep a nine year old boy content and concealed in the woods. We packed a lunch and drinks, two chairs, a pop-up blind, extra clothes (the temps were in the thirties with expected winds) and of course the gun, shells, and license. Wake-up was at 5:15 am and although tired, I think the excitement made for a quick rise and shine.
The walk to where we were hunting was approximately 35 minutes, but a little steep for small legs. We were finally approaching the spot where I wanted to set up the blind, when I noticed some silhouettes in the trees just on top of the ridge. We immediately stopped and back-peddled to get behind a small cedar tree along the edge of the field. The morning light was fast approaching and I wondered if I could set up the blind without bumping the roosted birds. I then realized my son would have a hard time keeping still like a seasoned hunter, and took that chance.
Now I have the blind set up, birds within site, and a very excited young boy. What else could two hunters want on the first morning of spring gobbler season. Not expecting this comment, Garrett says, "Can I have my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Dad ? I'm a little hungry. We continued to watch the birds for fly down and Garrett quickly devoured his sandwich. Within minutes, we saw the birds leave the roost and land twenty yards from our set-up. I handed the shotgun to Garrett and told him to get ready, the turkey was coming around a blow down just in front of our blind. The gobbler walked a path right on top of the ridge and within seconds, was right in front of us.
Caught up in the excitement, I said "shoot him, make sure your aiming for his head and neck, shoot him". The gobbler walked behind some barberry shrubs and Garrett said " He's behind that tree." Several more steps and the Tom was in the clear, his beard dangling. The shot rang out, but afterwards neither one of us remember hearing the sound of the gun. With the Turkey flopping around, Garrett said "I got him, Dad !
A father and son high five, lots of smiles, and a moment where one realizes a memory had just been made. Despite the gun shot, the other birds that had flown down from the roost were walking around in the middle of the field and we just sat there watching five more gobblers establishing what seemed like their pecking order as they chased and flogged each other across the large open field. Once the birds were out of sight, we walked over and claimed our turkey. The bird weighed in at 21 pounds, eight and a half inch beard, and 7/8 inch spurs... not bad for this fine young hunter. One only hopes this is enough to start a lifetime of hunting memories with Dad.
...Story and Photo,  courtesy Shawn Nicewonger.

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