Editor’s Note: Mossy Oak Pro Lisa Thompson lives in Littleton, Colorado. Growing up, Lisa was fortunate enough to be in a family where hunting and fishing were major parts of their lifestyles. “My grandparents, uncles, aunts, Mom and Dad all liked the outdoors,” Thompson says. “Hunting and fishing were a way of life for our family.” Lisa’s husband, Keith, also grew up in Colorado in an outdoor family. Lisa hunts primarily big game, elk, antelope, mule deer, sheep, ducks, geese, pheasants and turkeys.
My daughter Kelli and I went to Julesberg, Col., to hunt Rio Grande turkeys. Kelli plays basketball and had to be back for practice on Sunday afternoon. We were only going to be able to do a Friday afternoon and Saturday hunt. When we got to the place where we were going to hunt, we split up. Kelli likes to hunt by herself, knows the land and is a very-competent woodsman. She wanted to do her thing by herself, so I said, “Let me go find my own turkey.”
When we met up that night to go back to the place we were staying, rain had started falling before we got back to our vehicle. On Saturday morning when we woke up, there was a foot of snow on the ground. The date was April 29th. I tried to get Kelli up, but she said she was too tired and would hunt that afternoon.
I went to the woods, found some gobblers in the dark, set-up and started calling to them. I could see a longbeard coming, but out of nowhere, a hen intercepted that gobbler and took him off into the woods. That turkey was just barely out of range, and if that hen hadn’t appeared, I believe I would have taken him. However, I enjoyed a good hunt and then went back to the motel to get Kelli. We went out that afternoon, and as mothers and daughters will do, we were talking, laughing and having a big time. Since we could see fresh turkey tracks in the snow, we felt confident we’d locate a turkey. All of a sudden I spotted two gobblers about 200 yards away, moving through some brush. I called, and one tom started strutting, while the other gobbler just fed. Although one turkey was just interested in displaying, the other bird could have cared less that a hen was talking.
So, I looked at Kelli and said, “The only way we’ll get to that turkey is to put our bellies down in this snow like army men, go forward on our elbows and knees and crawl to the turkey. We’ve got to close the distance if we’re going to get a shot at these toms.” Kelli looked at me and asked, “Are you crazy, Mom? There’s a foot of snow!” A creek also was between us and the turkeys. We crawled out on a sand bar in the creek. I used a stick to check and see how deep the water was at the end of the sand bar and realized it was about knee-deep. Kelli looked at me and whispered “Are you kidding? We’re going to get soaked.” I used sign language to show Kelli that I was going across the creek. I bent over as far as I could to step into the water and hide from the birds, and my boots immediately filled up with water. I looked back at Kelli, and she was shaking her head indicating, “I’m not stepping out in that cold water.” I continued on across the creek, and when I looked back, Kelli had stepped off into the creek and was bent over as low as she could bend and coming to me. Once Kellie got across the creek, we both laid down in the snow and crawled on our bellies, using our elbows and knees to push us forward.
We finally reached a bush and saw that the turkeys were below a little rise. Kelli and I were soaked. I couldn’t have jumped in the shower with all my clothes on and been any wetter than we were. Kelli knows that when I hold out my hand and start counting to 10 on my fingers that when I get to 10, we’re going to stand up and take a shot, if we have a shot. When we stood up, I started telling Kelli to shoot. One of the turkeys was nervous and started to walk off, but the other gobbler was so busy strutting and showing off, I don’t think he even saw us. Kelli told me later that the reason she didn’t take the shot was she thought the turkeys were too far away. Although I had left my range finder at home, I had judged the turkeys to be about 40 yards out and knew my gun would pattern well at about 40 yards. I took my shot at the nervous turkey, and the other strutting bird took to the air, while the bird I’d been aiming at dropped into a pile of feathers. I looked at Kelli, smiled and said, “I can bag more gobblers being your wing man than I can when I’m hunting on my own.” Kelli smiled back and said, “You’re bad, Mom,” which, in the language of a 14-year old, means, “You’re awesome!” Although we were both soaking wet, when we got to my gobbler, we took time to make pictures. That turkey was soaking wet too and looked like he’d been through a washing machine or had jumped into the river with us.
This was a crazy hunt, and I really wish that Kelli had shot first. But if she thought the shot was too far to be effective, I’m glad she didn’t shoot. There’s one thing for sure: Kelli and I made a memory that will last a lifetime. We had wiggled our way through a foot of snow; we had crossed a creek and gotten wet up to our knees; and we still bagged a gobbler. And this gobbler was a “we” gobbler. We both endured the elements and got close enough for a shot. This was a mother-and-daughter turkey hunt that’s memory will last through both mine and Kelli’s lifetimes.