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The First Turkey Hunt for Serena Juchnowski

with Brett Berry 


Serena was a 17-year-old young lady who had never turkey hunted before. She’d been deer hunting four or five times and taken two deer, so she had some hunting experience. She was also a competitive shooter. She knew gun safety and shot long-range rifles competitively, with her longest range being 600 yards.  

Serena and I were walking through the woods with the rest of the people in our hunting party when we heard a bird gobble. He wasn’t gobbling very well, but when thunder rolled, he would gobble very hard out in the field. We went all the way around the field to get to the back side of where we’d seen the turkey. I called to the turkey about 10 times, and he gobbled back twice - mainly when thunder rolled. I could tell by the attitude of the bird that he wasn’t planning  to move from that spot in the field.  

I looked at my watch and it was 11 a.m. We could only hunt until noon. When I asked Serena what she wanted to do, she asked, “Can we get close enough to him for a shot?” I explained that the only way we can get to that turkey is to belly crawl close enough to take a shot. The rain had been pouring down all night into the first part of the morning. On the horizon, I could see more rain coming. 

“Serena, do you want to belly crawl to that gobbler?” I asked. 

She smiled and said, “Let’s go.” 

Don’t forget that she never had hunted turkeys a day in her life, but I told her, “Okay, let’s go. You stay right behind me and keep your gun pointed well away from me. Since you’re a competitive shooter, you know gun safety. When I look back and motion to you, crawl up here, and get beside me.”  

Serena and I belly crawled for 120 yards or so and got about 25 yards from the edge of the field where the gobbler was strutting. Once there, we realized that two big gobblers and a hen were out in the field, with one gobbler in full strut. We were under an autumn olive bush, and I motioned for Serena to crawl up beside me. 

BrettBerry_day2“I’m going to call to those toms and try and get them to come around the left side of that bush,” I told her. “If they come there, they’ll be well within range.” 

I couldn’t get the biggest strutting gobbler to break his strut. I threw one of my hands up in the air to get his attention. Each time I called, I snapped my fingers to sound like a hen bringing her beak together after she’d called. Finally the big gobbler broke his strut and started to walk toward us. 

I whispered to Serena, “There he is, kill him.”  

When we first started calling, the rain was coming down in sheets. Serena had taken her scope covers off the turkey scope mounted on her shotgun, and her scope was really, really wet.  

She looked through her scope and said, “I can’t see him.” 

She  cleaned off the scope and said, “Okay, I can see him now, but I don’t feel really good about taking the shot.” 

I told her, “Let’s not take the shot. Let’s allow that gobbler to walk off because you can’t call a turkey back once you have shot and missed him.” Finally the gobbler turned around and walked off. I was very impressed with Serena. She really wanted to take that turkey bad.  

That was Serena’s first turkey hunt, and that tom would have been the first turkey Serena ever harvested. But because she couldn’t see well enough to be certain she could put that gobbler down quickly and efficiently, she let him walk. 

Once the bird walked out of sight and I knew he couldn’t see us, we stood up to walk back to the rest of our team. The rain was really pouring down by then, so we didn’t have a way to take any pictures. However, I wish we had so you could see what a mess the two of us were. 

Day 1: 100 Days of Turkey Hunting

Tomorrow: Brett Berry Loves to Hunt Turkeys 

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