A Survivor's Tale
I came back the next year physically stronger and a bit wiser. My dad had warned me about a turkey's keen eyesight and that it would be able to see me before I'd see it. I also learned about their mating patterns and how turkeys roost at night. I found everything my dad taught me fascinating and developed a new respect for the birds.
I started to really enjoy the hunt. What had begun as a way to bond with my father had turned into a new passion. Unfortunately, I didn't bag a bird that year, either.
In the spring of 2002, my dad enlisted the help of his long-time friend, Mike Christensen, a Conservation Agent with the Missouri Department of Conservation. Mike agreed to take me out hunting. On the first morning we heard a few gobbles, but nothing was close.
The following morning, Mike and I watched at least three gobblers and four or five hens. One of the toms moved away from the flock and came toward our decoy. When the gobbler moved behind a tree, I positioned myself and aimed the shotgun. Mike whispered to take him when I was ready. When the turkey came out from behind a tree, I pulled the trigger. Well, I tried to pull the trigger, but nothing happened because in my excitement I'd forgotten to take the safety off.
I still had the bird in my sights, so I waited a few seconds for another good shot. The gobbler continued heading for the decoy, and I got another great opening. My heart seemed to stop as I steadied myself and pulled the trigger. The gun's recoil threw me back against Mike, who yelled, "You got him! Turn the safety on." Dazed, I just handed the gun to Mike. He quickly engaged the safety, laid the gun down and ran to the bird. I was right behind him.
I couldn't wait to tell my dad. When we reached the truck, I called him and relayed the whole story. I flew back to New Orleans the next day and told my husband, kids and friends the entire story. I couldn't wait for the next spring season to come around.
In August 2002, we moved to St. Louis. Leaving New Orleans was difficult, but living close to our families was important. We also wanted our sons to spend more time with their grandparents.