A Survivor's Tale

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Published on: Mar. 2, 2004

Last revision: Nov. 16, 2010

When I realized that I would be in Missouri for the entire spring 2003 turkey season, I got excited. I wanted to purchase my own gun, so I did a little research and bought a 12-gauge semi-automatic Baikal. It isn't fancy, but it's a good gun with mild recoil.

April couldn't come fast enough that year. I was excited about using my new gun and eager to hear those gobblers. My dad was confident there were turkeys on his property, so we hunted behind his house on opening day. We decided to split up, and I went to where we had spotted turkeys the past year.

In my previous hunts, I had relied on Mike and my dad to call birds, so I was unsure of how I would do on my own. I started calling, and it wasn't long before a tom appeared. I wasn't sure of the distance so I waited for him to get closer. I waited too long because when he got closer to my decoy, he saw something he didn't like and quickly trotted over a hill. I knew I had missed a great opportunity and mentally scolded myself for waiting too long.

I soon heard other gobblers and started calling again. There were at least two birds, and they were approaching fast. They went silent for several minutes, and I was afraid they had lost interest. The next thing I knew, two beautiful toms stood about 10 feet behind my left shoulder. I was backed up against a tree, so I just watched from the corner of my eye.

They strutted for the decoy, which was about 20 feet in front of me. Then, the larger one opened up his wings and spread his fan. I'll never forget that sound. I was in awe. I had to wait and hope that he moved forward because I knew I couldn't turn quick enough to shoot. At times, it's a disadvantage to be left-handed.

They both stopped about 5 feet to my left, and their wings came down. They started putting and then trotted away. I knew they wouldn't be back.

My dad and I decided to hunt behind his house again in hopes that those same turkeys would be back. When I walked into the kitchen early that morning, I could tell my dad didn't feel well. He asked if I would be OK hunting alone, and I bravely said yes.

I left the house, determined not to come back without a turkey. This time I positioned myself so I could shoot if a turkey came from either direction. I started calling, and gobbles came from all directions. I kept calling and heard a pair of turkeys approaching. They weren't in a hurry, so I stopped calling and waited.

After about 30 minutes, I started calling again with some soft yelps. The same gobblers answered me before I had even stopped. They seemed closer, so I continued with a few more eager calls and then put down my slate. I heard nothing for the longest time, but just when I was ready to start calling again, I saw movement in the distance. The brush was tall, but I was pretty sure I saw red. I watched as the tom paced back and forth in a zigzag pattern moving slowly toward my decoy and me.

When he was about 40 yards away, he moved behind a tree. I raised my gun, turned the safety off and aimed. I couldn't believe this was happening. I had actually called in a turkey all by myself! I followed him with my gun, and when I was sure he was within distance, I squeezed the trigger. My shot was true. The turkey was down. I proudly wrapped my tag around his leg and headed for the house.

As I laid the turkey down on the deck, I called for my dad. When he came out the door, his jaw fell open. He started laughing and hugged me. I hadn't seen him that excited in a long time. We drove to the check station, and as men were admiring the turkey, my dad said, "That's my daughter's turkey. She got it all on her own."

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