Shane Simpson | Mossy Oak ProStaff
Each year I take quite a few people hunting. Often my hunter is someone who has never killed a turkey before. One of the big problems that most seasoned turkey hunters have when they take a newbie hunting is the new hunter will spook a gobbler that’s coming in, but that rarely ever happens when I take a new turkey hunter.
When I'm filming a hunt, I'm right on my hunter’s shoulder. I'm only about a foot away from his ear. I'm constantly giving my hunter instructions on what not to do like swat mosquitos and, well, move. They're hearing me coach them to give them the best chance they can have to bag the gobbler.
Even when I take veteran hunters, I’ll sometimes give them reminders of what they should and shouldn’t do. Even veteran hunters still get excited when gobblers start coming toward them. As a result of that excitement, they often forget even the most basic rules of turkey hunting, regardless of experience. Sometimes excitement will make you forget everything you know about turkey hunting. So, I don’t hesitate to give my hunters a friendly reminder of what they already know. But even then, sometimes, that friendly reminder doesn’t work.
One of my most memorable turkey hunts was with my daughter Brooke. She and I were hunting together two years ago. When she was only 4 years old, I took her hunting for the first time, and she missed a hen in the fall season.
I took Brooke hunting the day after I killed the number-three gobbler ever taken in the state of Minnesota. I went hunting for the big gobbler before I took Brooke, because we were supposed to have a rain that day, and I wanted to take Brooke when it was sunny. But the front slowed down, and it didn’t rain on my hunt, but it rained that night, and the alfalfa field we were hunting on was soaking wet. Although Brooke had her camouflage on, she didn’t wear her hunting boots but rather had on tennis shoes. So I put her on my shoulders. I was carrying Brooke, the gun, my turkey vest and all my video equipment. We had to walk a half mile across the alfalfa field to reach the edge of the woods. Brooke wasn’t a very light six year old in that instance.
There was a light drizzle when we got to the place we planned to hunt, and the temperature was kind of cool. A buddy went with us, and he set up a ground blind. Then, we could at least keep the rain off us. We didn’t see or hear any birds at daylight, and Brooke fell asleep in my lap while I continued to call. I peeked out of the blind, looked to my left and saw some hens coming over the hill. I woke Brooke up so she could see them. Brooke was still sitting in my lap, and I had the camera set up on a tripod to operate it with one hand. I got Brooke to stand up. I had her Mossberg 510 mini 20 gauge shooting #6 shot low-recoil shells sitting on a tripod, so she wouldn’t have to hold it. I like that gun for Brooke, because it doesn’t have hardly any recoil. Brooke has to use two fingers to squeeze the trigger, because it’s a little heavy for her to squeeze with one finger. She put the red dot of the scope on the turkey’s bubbles. (Brooke calls the turkey’s wattles, bubbles.) She pulled the trigger, and the turkey dropped. He didn’t even flop.
The turkey was only about 15-20 yards away from the blind when Brooke shot. When she shot, Brooke saw all the hens flying away. She thought she had missed the gobbler, and she said, “He flew away.”
She started to get a little upset until I pointed and said, “There he is. He’s right there.” Then she put on her happy face. I go back and watch that video quite often. There's nothing like watching one of your children take her first gobbler.