Discovering nature in turkey hunting

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WAYNE COUNTY, Mo. -- Hunting stories are vital to the tradition of hunting. No hunt is complete until the hunter shares the play-by-play of what happened in the wild. For new turkey hunter Holly Spain, a student at Three Rivers College, it’s a story of how she discovered the excitement of being in the woods during the spring turkey season.

“We left the house just after five that morning and it was exciting to be out there,” Holly described the morning of her hunt.

Holly was lucky enough to be guided by Conservation Agent Mic Plunkett and his son, Lucas, on one of the agent’s off duty days. New hunters have the most success when they can learn from a mentor according to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), as was the case for Holly. Mic and Lucas had scouted the area with Holly before the hunt and shared their knowledge of the woods each step of the way.

“We heard one gobble and then another gobbled from a different direction,” she said. “It just gobbled and gobbled and came right up there.”

Holly said the experience of hearing the birds in the woods would’ve been enough for her to have a great time, but to harvest a gobbler was a special experience.

“I really just wanted to hear a turkey gobble, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to aim correctly and everything, but it came up there and I was nervous,” she said. “It walked along and then a hen came in, we didn’t know if it was going to leave with the hen, but then it started beating on the decoy and I couldn’t believe it.”

Holly said she calmed herself and then carefully aimed and took her shot at the gobbler.

“This is my favorite thing now, now that I’ve heard and seen a gobbler – it’s just an awesome experience to hear it, see it and then of course there’s the experience of tagging it and looking it over,” Holly said.

Plunkett said it was an exciting hunt.

“This is the first time I ever had a gobbler come in and whip up on the Jake decoy,” Plunkett said. “It was comical, to say the least. He really put on a show.”

Holly’s adoption of turkey hunting as her favorite outdoor activity pleases National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) Regional Director Larry Neal.

“What a dandy bird and hunt,” Neal said of Holly’s photo and description of her hunt. “The hunt for the wild turkey gobbler is as fun as hunting gets.”

Neal said he encourages experienced hunters to share their knowledge with new hunters whenever possible. Holly agrees.

“I couldn’t have done this without Mic and Lucas,” Holly said. “And now I will definitely hunt turkeys again - definitely.”

The spring turkey season is open now until May 5. Hunting hours are one half hour before sunrise to 1 p.m. Valid permits include Resident Spring Turkey Hunting Permit, Resident Landowner Spring Turkey Hunting Permit and Nonresident Spring Turkey Hunting Permit. Two male turkeys or turkeys with visible beard may be taken during the season, with the following restrictions. You may only take one turkey during the first week from April 15 –21. If you do not take one during the first week, then you may take two during the second or third week from April 22–May 5, but you may not take them both on the same day.

Hunters, like Holly, who bag their first turkey, can print out a First Turkey Certificate from the Missouri Department of Conservation at