My Nephew’s First SpringTurkey Hunt
April 30th, 2012
I have four nephews, but one in particular has a strong passion for hunting. Aubrey who will be ten this year went on his first spring turkey hunt with me. He didn’t have his own turkey tag, but I had a landowner turkey permit and could hunt all of the Illinois four turkey seasons. His mom was gracious to allow him to go with me on Illinois opening two days of turkey season. On day one, we had a chance at a nice spring gobbler but he did not give us a good shot opportunity. On day two, a jake fell in love with my new hen turkey decoy. He strutted and danced around the decoy for over 30 minutes. Then my nephew got a lesson in sex education as the jake tried to breed the hen decoy for another 30 minutes. Afterwards he laid down beside the decoy (By this time he had broke my stick and the decoy was on its side covered in mud.) and put one feather over the top of it! He was cuddling with the hen decoy afterwards! He stayed around for another 20 minutes! Finally we wanted to move to a new another spot so we spooked the jake off when we left. Needless to say my nephew was hooked on turkey hunting.
The following weekend Aubrey had a soccer tournament so we couldn’t turkey hunt, but he came down for the entire weekend after that. I had done my scouting and knew where a nice gobbler was roosting and flying down to first thing in the morning. I already had a blind in place as it is one of those spots that is good almost every year. I also mowed all the clover plots on my farm for the second time this year. I like to get them nice and short during turkey season. This gives the toms a place to strut and feed. When the grass starts getting tall everywhere, I have found mowing your food plots can really be productive.
My turkey manager, Matt, noticed a huge gobbler and a jake in my food plot around 8:15am Friday morning. Friday night, I roosted these same turkeys in the trees they have been using all week. I decided though to hunt my blind that I had in my food plot and just listen to see what the birds do. Then on Sunday we could move closer to the roosting area if needed. My nephew and I went to bed excited about our turkey hunt the next morning. We both woke up before the alarm went off, had breakfast, put on our hunting cloths and headed to the turkey blind. We made it there in plenty of time and had our single hen decoy out in the clover field. We heard birds all around us at a distance but nothing close. Then around 6:10am we heard our gobbler. He flew down from the roost and did not make a sound the rest of the morning. One of my nephew’s favorite part of turkey hunting is going out for breakfast. Things were slow so I decided to keep him from getting bored we would head out and have some breakfast and hopefully get back for some late morning action with a lonely gobbler.
After breakfast we headed back to our turkey blind in the food plot. I called once we were inside the blind and before we could get settled, a gobbler answered back! I waited to see if he would gobble again and a couple seconds later he did! This gobbler was a long ways off, so I told my nephew that we need to cut the distance. We were able to easily cut the distance in half. I waited for him to gobble again and just a few minutes later he did. This bird was fired up! But he was still a long ways off. There was creek that led straight to where he was and we could cut the distance again in half. We quietly snuck down this creek to a grassy hillside. I heard him gobble again and he was closer. I crawled out into an open field and placed my decoy about 10yrds from where we were laying in the grass. I softly called on my slate call and then put it down and put in my mouth call. This spring gobbler gobbled again and I told my nephew that he was coming! A minute or two later we could see his fan over the hump in the field and then his bright red head. As he walked closer I could tell he had a nice beard. This turkey didn’t waste any time and got within 25yrds. I pulled the trigger on my Browning Gold 12 gage and the tom rolled right over! We both jumped up and ran to the bird, giving each other high fives along the way! I remember Aubrey saying “This is awesome! This is awesome! This is awesome!” After tagging the bird and taking a few photos he wanted to carry it to the truck. I think the bird weighed almost as much as he did, but he managed to get it in the bed of my truck.
We spent the next couple hours taking pictures, showing Grandma and the other hunters in camp our bird. Aubrey found a shed when we were hunting and was proud to show everyone. One of our hunters also harvested a turkey Saturday morning so it was a happy time in turkey camp. For me it was the start of a new tradition in our family. Aubrey is already talking about next year’s youth turkey season and getting a new youth shotgun so he can shoot his first turkey. I have learned over the years that hunting is really about making memories and starting traditions with family and friends. Harvesting an animal is just a bonus. I am happy for the memories we made this turkey season and the start of a new hunting tradition that will last for many years to come.