The Family That Hunts Together...

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Published on: Mar. 2, 2008

Last revision: Dec. 7, 2010

afternoon, Drew pulled up to the check station with Clint grinning from ear to ear. He had shot a turkey! Shortly after, Shelley and Travis drove up. Clint had called them from the field on Drew’s cell phone to tell them the great news.

After the turkey was weighed, Clint posed with his trophy for many photos. Drew, who ended up in a lot of the photos, showed the family how to field-dress the bird. They then took it home, eager to turn it into the main course of a delicious dinner.

Travis’ Turn

As luck would have it, Clint’s twin brother, Travis, was the lucky one in the 2004 annual Youth-Only Managed Turkey Hunt, and Drew became his guide. That year Shelley wanted to sit in the blind with her son and the guide.

Travis didn’t get a bird on Saturday, but he said he had a good time anyway. About 11:30 on Sunday morning, however, Travis shot his tom. Soon after, Travis, Drew, Clint, Jim and the twins’ grandparents were celebrating another turkey hunting success story with pictures, handshakes and high-fives.

Shelley said the hunts were the high points of the boys’ lives. “They’ve gotten many school awards and sports awards,” she said, “but nothing compares to this hunt!”

And a Twist!

A few months later, Shelley Parnell showed up at the Burr Oak Woods front desk with a grand tom turkey that she had called in herself.

Shelley, a petite woman, said she was so thrilled when her boys harvested a turkey that she wanted to try turkey hunting, too.

Drew had helped her find a landowner who gave her permission to hunt on his land.

She prepared for the hunt and went turkey hunting for the first time in her life. When the turkey she’d called appeared, she took aim and pulled the trigger.

After she’d phoned to spread the word, she said the whole family came out to her hunting spot, cameras in hand. Her first gobbler meant more meat for the dinner table and for the family photo album.

Hunting as a family

The tradition of turkey hunting has now totally taken over the Parnell family. It was almost no surprise that Travis and Clint received shotguns for Christmas that year.

Shelley and the boys go hunting together every season. Sometimes Jim comes along to be part of the group, but he mostly just sits in the blind. “At least we’re all together,” Shelley said with a smile.

The first day of the season, a flip of the coin decides which of the boys gets to sit in the blind with their mom. The loser gets the second day.

Shelley said turkey hunting has helped her forge better relationships with her sons.

“The conversations we’ve had in the blind are incredible,” Shelley said. “I’ve had tears just watching and listening to the boys. Think about how physically close we are together in the blind—and we have four to five hours to just talk and listen and be together.

“You know, I’m a mother with two sons,” she said. “Dads always seem to have something to bond with their boys. It’s a little harder for moms to feel connected. I always wanted to find something to bond us together, and hunting has been that bond.”

As much as Shelley likes hunting with her sons, she also has learned that hunting alone can also be rewarding.

“Calling, taking it all in, listening to the morning all by myself is something I really look forward to,” she said.

Turkey hunting has become so enmeshed in the Parnell family that Shelley has learned to mount the turkeys they’ve taken. The turkey mounts are displayed in their living room, family room and several bedrooms.

“It’s a good thing that Jim’s a good sport about this!” Shelley said with a laugh.

Shelley says she can see the family hunting together until she reaches 50 or 60 years old. “Then I’ll sit in the back of the blind and enjoy my boys, hunting together as men,” she said.

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