Okay, so I've been lurking here since late November when I just decided at 47 it was time to learn how to hunt. I grew up scuba diving and deep sea fishing in Hawaii....but never really hunted...but always wanted to. I've lived in TN for the last ten years and always thought it was something I would get around to "Next Year"....and so I put it off. Promises from my hunting friends proved to be promises, not appointments....and so it was not to be.

This last year in November after winning a .308 at a Friends of the NRA dinner, I decided to go for it. (No SCN, I did not shoot a turkey with a .308). But it got me off my rear to get to work. I bought a lifetime sportsman so I would have no excuse...spend scads of time studying the TWRA hunting Guide...calling WMA's and decoding the heretofore undecipherable rules for hunting that always intimidated me from starting.

I saw deer on public land, but it was always near the end of shooting light and since I was in an unfamiliar swampy area and by myself, I didn't shoot. (I had never killed an animal with a rifle before and didn't know how far they might run...couple that with narrow shooting lanes from a treestand, I decided discretion was the better part of valor. Eventually a buddy "Put me in a stand" on his lease, taking pity on me. I got my first doe.....this good ole boy buddy was impressed, amused, and disgusted (all at the same time) that I learned how to dress a deer on youtube. THat's when I decided I better lease some land because I ultimately wanted to teach my kids and someday grandkids.

Now the Turkey Story

I acquired a share in a lease right as turkey season was underway this year. I had a shotgun.....that's it...Eventually I obtained a mouthcall, a pot, a good choke, and a chair as well as a "butterfly screen" with integral shooting sticks, and a set of realtree camo. (During deer season I had been using some old BDU's that Our Uncle had given me).

I spent two mornings and one afternoon plowing around there. I heard gobbles, they answered me and I was hooked. I saw some turkeys strutting and hanging up....I figured I called too much. I decided I loved Turkey hunting though I hand't bagged one yet. Meanwhile on here Catman had limited out! I spent a good time during my "turkey hunts" checking out the lease after I had busted myself due to multiple bouts of ignorance.

My son (whom I took to college in FL. two days ago) had always wanted to turkey hunt, and lamented that it was a shame that we wouldn't be able to go since he'd be gone by the time I had it all figured out, and the end of the season was a week away. I begged to disagree and the gauntlet was thrown. By God, if I was a half-way decent father, I'd find a way to make this happen. I lived on this site for a few days and gobbled up everything I could on turkey hunting (pun intended).

The day of the hunt had arrived. We got a late start (I figured this is a mandatory part of a good hunting story----kind of like the other kind of forum that starts with "I attend a small midwestern college")

It was a two hour drive to the lease...(giving us time to practice calling to the CD that was in the truck CD player) we packed a lunch, a tent, hibachi, food, sleeping bag, guns, ammo, and water. The nice lady at Kroger took special care that afternoon to make our sandwiches at the deli on our way out of town and I swear it took 40 minutes....and of course I was very impatient.

We got to the lease, around 4:00pm, pitched the tent as I knew we'd be back after dark.....got camo'd, loaded, and started off to where I'd seen and heard turkeys before on a previous morning. My hope was to be able to roost them, then return in the morning to try to hunt them legitimately.

We set up in one place and that my son picked out......on the way to the edge of a field I wanted to go. This was about 4:30pm. We called there briefly after hearing a gobble far away...then heard nothing for half an hour, then moved to the spot I had planned out ....with my vast experience at that point.

I set my son at the edge of a 1 acre field bordered by pines and hardwoods where I'd seen the turkeys hang up on the edges before. I set a breeding pair out by the path entering the woods, and a lone hen out by the road "just in case". I proceeded to sit on the edge of some bushes not very concealed, but out of the way from any approaching turkey. Just out of "whisper range" with my son.

I let my son call, and from what I could tell, he was calling too much and not like any "instructional youtube video" might show. Since I'm kind of an over-bearing type, and since we weren't going to have this chance again, I just let him go...for a change.....enjoying the fading afternoon and spending time together in the woods with my boy....and thinking about how I should have done this earlier in life with him (we always fished).

He had the fancy camo Winchester gun with the turkey choke, and I had a blued/walnut Mossberg 500 with a full choke "Just in case". (I had bought this years ago from a friend for a $100 and it had sat in the safe for years unused) I couldn't get an inexpensive Turkey choke at the last minute when we decided to go.

The wind picked up and turned the hen by the road around so she wasn't facing my boy anymore. I made a mental note that I'd need to find a way to keep that from happening in the future....but since the turkeys weren't going to come that way anyway...especially with the awful calling, it didn't matter.

As I was daydreaming, my eyes caught what appeared to be a black basketball at the turn of the road about 100yds up ahead. I thought "Holy %$#* Batman....I mean CatMan....I think that's a Gobbler!" I was too far from my son to tell him I saw a turkey without making too much noise. Fortunately, my son took a break and the turkey kept strolling down the road.

You have to know at this point, the road where the gobbler was...was completely out of sight from my son as a small strip of hardwoods, brush, and pines separated him from the view of the turkey.

The turkey came in silent....but meaning business. I still am not sure what drumming is, but the sound when he'd go into full strut was awesome. My son could hear those feathers rustling and started a light purr on the aluminum pot call. No gobbling from the gobbler but lots of drama....dancing, spinning, and dragging his wings back and forth as he worked his way to ...you guessed it....the hen by the road.

My hope was that he'd round the corner of the strip of hardwoods , but the decoy hen was at the very end of the hardwoods....looking straight at him. I soon realized, there was no need for that gobbler to get any closer to my son as he had the full gaze from the hen where he was.

At this point, my adrenaline is in full dump. I take about two minutes to raise my gun as from this vantage point, I am almost fully exposed to this turkey. I get a bead on the bird, but he's quite a bit out. (later paced and confirmed by google earth at 42 yds). Here I am with a full choke and a 3 inch shell.

He got about 10 feet from the hen and stared at her.....full strut...spin...stare. He was so mad that she didn't respond. At one point he jumped straight in the air and stomped his feet. I kept telling myself..."You will not shoot this bird...wait for NIck to shoot him." I finally realized that my son could not see the bird, but only hear him. Nick would purr....go silent.......purr....etc... the turkey stayed put, but gave me quite a show.

When he looked like he was about to bail....I pulled the trigger....put the hurt on the bird and we both went out to claim our prize. It was 5:20pm. In the fading afternoon light, armed with knowledge gleaned from TNDEER and Youtube, we dressed and plucked our first Turkey.

We went down the road and checked it in....showing off spurs and beard to all the locals killing time in the store....the best part is when my son handed me a "York Peppermint Patty", to celebrate. (When he was a very little boy. we'd take those when we'd go fishing in Okinawa)

We went back and grilled a monster steak, baked beans and green beans in the can over the flame, and Indian Naan bread......he still says this was the best steak he's ever had and I agree. We fell asleep to the sound of God in all his glory.....bugs, birds, coyotes...it was perfect.

He couldn't get up at O'dark thirty to try again in the morning, too exhausted, and we quit midmorning because his allergies were killing him.......but I was a happy man.

We showed-off our turkey to our neighbor (Hunter) who said we had a fine bird.....
I didn't weigh him until he was ready for the oven......plucked, winged, dressed, no feet, no head..was just over 15 lbs. His beard was 9.5 and spurs were exactly 1 inch slightly rounded so I'm guessing he spent a lot of time on that road.

I'll try to attach pics

I want to thank all of you on here for the memory of a lifetime...and I hope I can repeat this experience with my daughter (13)and youngest son(11)this deer season, or in the Spring with turkeys. I miss my son already... when he comes home for Thanksgiving, I hope to have his fan and beard mounted. (Its been in the Borax since then)

Edited by Jakal (08/27/13 01:38 AM)