8 April 2009
Caleb Bags His First Turkey During the 2009 Missouri Youth Spring Turkey Season
Posted by Darrell under: Turkey .
Saturday – April 4, 2009 was a special day for my son, Caleb. It was the opening morning of the Youth Spring Turkey Season. We woke up early and went to meet our friends Jeff, Todd, and Todd’s seven year old son – Gavin. This would be Gavin’s first hunt (of any kind) and he was really excited. Caleb, too, was excited. Caleb has taken a couple deer, a pig, several pheasants (which I still need to write about), but up until this point – no turkey.
On Friday Jeff and I spent the afternoon out at his tract of land in Taney county (near Branson, Missouri) scouting for Turkey sign. We found the perfect spot, near where we both had taken turkey in the past, and set up 2 blinds about 80 yards apart. The turkey were obviously roosting close to this spot. Caleb and I would be in one blind, and Jeff, Todd, and Gavin would be in the other. That evening we went back to Jeff’s house and patterned the guns. Gavin had absolutely no fear of the guns!The blinds were a good 15 minute hike from where we could park the truck. We didn’t arrive to the land until about 6:30am Saturday morning (by which time it was already light) and we busted hens that were already on the ground on our way into the blinds.
It was warm and windy and we didn’t know what affect that would have on the Toms. They were pretty quiet. We heard a couple gobbles, a long way to the North of us, at around 7:30. After those gobbles, it was quiet again. Jeff and I had agreed to call sparingly. We 1) didn’t think we’d need to call too much since the turkey were obviously using the area and 2) didn’t want to ruin the birds for the season by educating them to our calling.
I called intermittingly after we arrived for the first 30 minutes and then would give seven clucks once every 15-20 minutes. Nothing happened until around 9:00 am. I did my seven clucks and a Tom immediately gobbled. He sounded like he was maybe 150 yards from us (South and down the hill), which put Jeff and Gavin’s blind directly between the Tom and Caleb and I. I decided to go ahead and try to call him in and hope that he walked right by their blind.
He did. As I started my next call, he fired off immediately. It sounded like it came from Jeff’s blind and I wondered just for an instant if Jeff was messing around with us. I could see Jeff’s blind, but I couldn’t see the Tom. I knew though that he had to be really, really close to them.Caleb and I didn’t hear any shots. So I continued calling. That bird came in hot. I think he might have been a little spooked because he didn’t come directly to us. He circled and went north of our blind and then took off running on a course that would bring him parallel to our blind at about 25 yards.
At that time, I doubted that we were going to get that bird because he was really moving and he was at an angle where there was a lot of brush between our blind and him. I had seen him for maybe 6 or 7 seconds and Caleb still had not seen him, although he had his gun up and he was ready. As that turkey passed by our blind at 25 yards and in some brush I gave one final call in the hopes of slowing him down and giving Caleb a shot. As I called that bird came to an abrupt stop. At this exact time Caleb saw him and lined up on him. The Tom stuck his head out perfectly through the brush and started to gobble. I couldn’t believe it. He gave Caleb a perfect shot at his head and neck.
Caleb shot while he was gobbling. This all happened within about 3 seconds (no joke). I didn’t even have time to tell Caleb to “get ready” or “there he is”. Caleb acted on his own and made a perfect shot at the perfect time. I was amazed!This confirmed for me a suspicion I’ve had for the last couple years. Caleb is a natural hunter. I can’t believe how well he controls his nerves and the calm way in which he is able to take his shots. He also seems to naturally take the shots at the right time without having to be prodded or told. Yes, if you hadn’t guessed it, I’m really proud of him. I’m also impressed and glad to have him as a hunting partner. I look forward to hunting with him for the decades to come.
Gavin also had the time of his life and I think he, too, might just be a natural hunter. The big tom that Caleb got came within 10 yards of their blind. Gavin tracked that bird with his gun and came within a second or two of pulling the trigger. He was that close to bagging his first Tom and his first game animal. Remember, this was his first ever hunt (of any kind).
After Caleb shot his bird, we sat tight to give them an opportunity at any Toms that might have been traveling with our bird. Unfortunately, none materialized. One answered the call a couple times, but then disappeared. Gavin sat in that blind for 4 ½ hours. Jeff and Todd said he was having an absolute ball. Not many 7 year olds will sit still for 1 hour let alone 4 ½ . Jeff, Todd, and Gavin went back on Sunday morning and spent several more hours in the blind – even though it was 28 degrees. They didn’t see or hear anything. However, when I asked Gavin later what he thought of it all, He said that “it was really really fun”. I’d say he is a natural hunter!
Sunday night, we celebrated Caleb’s first bird by eating it. There is nothing like wild turkey. It is so much better than the domesticated bird you buy in the store. Caleb received a couple gifts from friends to commemorate his first turkey, including a really nice Browning knife that Billy bought him. I’m sure he will be walking on clouds for the coming days. Turkey season in Missouri opens on April 20 and you can bet I’m counting the minutes.
Caleb’s turkey was a mature Tom with a 9.5 inch beard!