My best turkey hunts every year is when I take my children turkey hunting with me. My son Taylor took his first turkey when he was 8, and my daughter Mady took her first turkey when she was 9. For me, nothing is more fun or more exciting than having my children sit between my legs, and I explain what the turkey is doing, watch my kids get excited, help them get steady enough to shoot and then watch them go to the turkeys they’ve just taken and celebrate. Those kinds of memories last two lifetimes.
We have a hunting club that borders some public hunting land. I’d located a gobbler I knew would be tough to reach, because we had to go through a field to get close to the turkey. So, I wanted to make sure the turkey was still asleep when we crossed the field. This turkey had been gobbling every morning, and I thought this turkey was a sure bet. Just as the day started breaking, I heard the tom gobble. He was right where I wanted him to be 180-200 yards just over the hill from where we had set up.
A lot of the property we hunt is straight up-and-down hills and valleys. An old logging road was in front of us, and I was hoping this turkey would come down the logging road to us. We were resting the gun against Taylor’s leg and my leg. Taylor had his left hand on my leg, and his right hand was on my knee. All of a sudden, I felt Taylor squeezing my knee. He had seen the tips of that gobbler’s fan coming up over the hill. I whispered, “Calm down Taylor. Just let the bird keep coming.” He was shooting a 20-gauge Mossberg shotgun. We had patterned the gun several times. Then when Taylor squeezed the trigger, he would know exactly what the pattern would be. I had put a red dot scope on the gun to make aiming easier for Taylor. About every third step the turkey took, he would gobble so loud that the leaves would quiver in the trees. He was also in full strut. I could hear Taylor’s breathing speed up, and to be honest, mine did too. I got really, really excited just watching and listening to Taylor get excited. When the bird was at about 23 steps, I whispered, “I'm going to call to him.When that turkey sticks his neck up, bust him.”
Starting about 7 years before the hunt, Taylor had been mounting his BB gun (not cocked or loaded) and aiming at the turkeys on the TV set when we watched turkey-hunting shows together. He'd squeeze the trigger when he could see the sight on the BB gun on the turkey’s wattles. So, for 7 years, he'd been simulating shooting a gobbler at the same time that Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland and Toxey Haas of Mossy Oak shot gobblers, or Will Primos took a gobbler. When any of the other TV hosts took a bird, Taylor bagged that same bird. So, he was well prepared for the moment of truth.
I made a soft yelp. The turkey gobbled and stuck his head up, and Taylor squeezed the trigger. That was one of the most awesome, turkey-hunting experiences I'd ever had in my life. I was glad I had my hand on Taylor’s gun as quick as he squeezed the trigger. Because he'd watched so many turkey hunting TV shows, I think he would’ve thrown the gun off the side of that hill, jumped up and run to the turkey like he'd seen so many other hunters on TV shows we’d watched together. Taylor was like greased lightening getting to that gobbler. The turkey weighed 22 pounds, sported an 11-inch beard and had 1-3/8-inch spurs. When Taylor arrived at the downed gobbler, he was talking 100 mph. “We got him. We got him. We got him,” he kept saying. When the high-fives and hugging were over, I told Taylor, “Put the turkey on your back. You’re going to carry him out just like the hosts on the TV shows.”
Tomorrow: Doubling Down on Gobbler Turkeys