Don’t you just love doing new things? I know I do, and this is a first for me, because this is my first turkey tale. And no, it’s not a story of my very first turkey hunt; I have been just a few times over the past few years, but have never had any success. So, this is the tale of my first turkey kill. It may not be full of exciting twists and turns, or leave you on the edge of your seats, and, you already know how it ends. But I’m going to tell it anyway, because I love sharing my “memories from the field”.
I woke up Wednesday morning (May 3, 2017) with no intention of going hunting. I had been out quite a bit since season started with no luck, and just wanted to crawl back in bed and forget about turkey. I made up my mind that I would step outside and call a few times and if I got some return gobbles, then I would get ready and go. So, I did just that; I stepped out and called, and listened. Nothing, not a sound. I waited about 15 minutes and tried again. That was it; my mind was made up. However, instead of going back to bed, I decided I would just sit and enjoy some hot coffee. And, while I was sitting there sipping that coffee all I could think is that I needed to make myself get out there. I knew I’d be mad at myself if I didn’t at least try. So, I threw myself together, gathered my equipment and headed out the door.
Even though I decided to go try, I still wasn’t really feeling it. I didn’t want to go anywhere, so I sat in the backyard blind that my husband built for me. Okay, I know what you’re thinking now. Yard birds, right? Oh how I wish it were that easy! If I could just walk out my door and shoot a turkey, I would have had my first a long time ago! And, every single year from late winter until very early spring, we do have turkey that come in the yard, and occasionally even a big tom or two. But, it never fails; turkey season starts and the turkey disappear. Well, all except for a couple of hens that decide to nest in our woods; they still come out every day.
Okay, moving on. This tale will be short and sweet, because that’s exactly how the hunt was, short and sweet! Remember, I wasn’t going to go, so I was a little later getting out than usual, and to top it off, the turkey decided to come out a little earlier than usual. When we get backyard visitors it’s normally close to 8:00 a.m. before they show up. And, even later when the boys come out to play. Actually, the majority of the time if toms are seen at all in the yard, it’s in the evening. For those of you not familiar with Ohio turkey hunting laws, you can only hunt until noon during the first 2 weeks of season. Then it goes to all day hunting for the last 2 weeks. I feel like if you haven’t got a bird in that first 2 weeks though, your chances get really slim really fast.
Alright, now for the details of the hunt! I went out my door about 6:20, set my supplies out in my blind, and then put out my decoys. For this hunt I was using a hen and a turkey fan on a stick. Yes, a fan on a stick; I thought everyone knew about this trick, but I have since learned that it may not be as common as I realized. But, my husband has had success with it for years, so it is what I use too. Anyway, by the time I got set up and ready it was about 6:30. After getting completely settled in, I grabbed my slate and did a little calling. Then I just sat back and relaxed and waited, hoping to hear some gobbles. But, again, not a sound. I waited about 15 minutes and called again, this time using a combination of my diaphragm call and the slate. Still no return gobbles, but something caught my eye. I saw movement, and it was fast! Yes, it was a turkey. I could barely see the top of its head, but I knew; this was one of the boys! I called in my first turkey!
I was so excited, but I tried not to get my hopes up too high. I know how hunting can go. I’ve called in plenty of deer just to have them take off and go somewhere else. And, this bird was 100 yards or more away. There was no guarantee that he would come my direction. I was filled with excitement, hope, and skepticism all at once! But, luckily he decided to pop up over the little hill and move my way. It was a jake. And, I was okay with that. This would be my first bird if I could get him to move in close enough, and the fact that I was doing it on my own made it all the more rewarding. It seemed like an eternity, but he kept moving in closer and closer. Then all of a sudden he froze up and stopped coming my way. He was still way too far to shoot, so I just sat and watched and hoped. Then out she came; one of the hens decided to make an early appearance. She ran straight toward him and then changed direction and moved directly in front of me. Of course, he decided to follow. But, now he was on the move. I had such a sinking feeling. I knew how this was going to go. I’d seen it before. She was going to keep moving, and he was going to keep following.
But, something caught his eye again. He spotted the decoys, and they stopped him in his tracks. He was still a little farther than I wanted him to be, but I felt like it was a shot I could make. I knew this might be my only opportunity. I couldn’t let him go chasing off after that hen! So, I made the decision to pull that trigger. And, then I saw it, the flop! That’s the moment every turkey hunter lives for, and I was finally getting to experience it for myself. It was amazing! Yet, not having experienced it before, I wasn’t exactly sure how to handle it. So, I watched my turkey flop himself right into my pond. Not really how I wanted to recover my first bird. I mean, who wants a soaking wet bird to show off. Anyway, I went and grabbed a rake and fished him out of the pond. Soaking wet and all, I was still proud of my first bird! Then I did something I never thought I would be doing. Under the advice of my husband, I pulled out the blow dryer and dried my turkey. Needless to say, that was another first for me.
Well, there you go. My first turkey tale. It was a story of many firsts, and one that will live with me forever. It was my first bird, first jake, first time calling one in, first flop, first time fishing a turkey out of a pond, first time blow drying a bird, and my first turkey photo shoot. Hopefully, this is just the first of many turkey kills. And, while it may not be the most exciting story in the world, it will now be one of my favorite “memories from the field”, because there is just something about a “first” that lives with you forever.
Do you have a memory from the field that you would like to share? I would love to feature your story right here on Doe & Arrow Hunting! Or, maybe you have a favorite wild game recipe, or some tips or advice you want to share. As always, feel free to leave comments below or you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.