Youth Hunt

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Published on: Jan. 2, 2005

Last revision: Nov. 17, 2010

Jake said. In a few moments he'd recovered from his excitement enough to go pick up his first turkey.

Ben's Turn

April 13 dawned calm, crisp and cold. The frost on our boots from walking in the grass looked like white powder in the dim light. We found a good spot and staked out our small flock of decoys. We were sitting in the edge of a field about 200 yards from where the birds were roosted.

I was giving Ben some last-minute coaching when a turkey ended all talk with a thunderous gobble from the edge of the woods.

I sent out a few tree yelps. An old hen answered with a raspy assembly call while she was still sitting in the tree. The gobbler went berserk with another loud gobble. I called again and so did the hen, and the gobbler responded even more lustily. While this was going on, we also saw three gobblers sitting in the trees walking up and down the limbs, gobbling and strutting. Ben sat silently, transfixed by the greatest show on Earth.

One gobbler pitched out of the tree directly to the hen. Another hen pitched into the air. She landed and walked over to our hen decoys. I thought the other toms might fly to her and the decoys, but they left the area heading in about the same direction as the other tom. We waited and let things quiet down a bit.

A second group of turkeys farther up the ridge had gotten fired up, so we moved to get between the two ROSSgroups of birds. I talked back and forth with a gobbler from the first bunch of birds for a few minutes, but he wouldn't come any closer. However, the birds behind us became more interested. One gobbled at every third or fourth series of yelps. He was coming.

"Get ready, Ben," I said. "That bird could show up anywhere."

I called, and the bird gobbled about 60 or 70 yards to our left and a little behind us. I repositioned Ben quickly and then called again, but got no response. Then I heard loud drumming coming from the direction where I last heard the bird.

Ben got his gun ready. I put its fore stock on my knee to help support it. The bird strutted and drummed for 15 minutes while advancing in baby steps.

Finally the bird was close enough. He pulled in his feathers and looked around for the hen he knew would be there, so I yelped softly to him.

Ben said, "I have a good shot now."

"Let him have it!"

Ben's shotgun roared, and he had his first turkey, a huge, thick-bearded old tom.

That weekend marked an important point in my life as a turkey hunter. Not only could I guide kids, but I could watch them grow. I think I got more out of the National Wild Turkey Federation's Jakes Program than Jacob and Ben. It gave me a chance to pass on my hunting heritage.

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