Last weekend I went on my first turkey hunt. Actually, my first hunt of any kind. Ever.
Going in, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve heard many hunting stories, but I wasn’t certain how I’d react to seeing a live turkey up close. And I really wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy the experience or ever consider going again.
The day started off a bit rocky. Tony and I drove out into the country looking for a good place to setup the blind. I really had no idea what we were looking for, but I could tell Tony really wanted to find a good spot. He wanted me to have the best chance possible of seeing turkeys and getting a shot.
After about an hour of searching (and one unplanned trip back into Lebo so I could go pee), we found the perfect place out on the Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge. (Side note: I’m perfectly capable of going pee outside, but I had on several layers of clothes which upped the difficulty factor. I really didn’t want to take any chances.)
We trekked about a quarter mile or so back into a field, unpacked our gear, setup the Dave Smith hen decoy and crawled into the blind nestled into a lightly wooded area facing the field. Then we started waiting. Every five or ten minutes, Tony would use one of his many turkey calls, hoping to get a responding gobble from a male and lure him our direction.
After about 30 minutes we hadn’t heard anything and started playing word games to pass the time. Just when I was starting to get into the word game and thought I was about to stump Tony (professional sports team/mascot that starts with the letter “Q”), he sounded the turkey call and in the distance we heard a gobble.
Suddenly, the entire experience changed.
Excitement was in the air and the adrenaline started pumping. I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, but I thought there was a pretty good chance I was about to see a turkey! I was on the edge of my seat straining to listen in hopes of hearing another gobble. Tony called out again, and we got another response. This time, even closer.
For the next ten or 15 minutes, Tony worked the turkeys calling them in from the west. Before I knew it, I was looking out the blind at a tom strutting about 10 yards from us, stomping and trying to get the attention of the lady-like decoy we’d planted. And to make things even sweeter, he had brought a buddy with him. (I guess in the turkey world, they sorta like bringing a buddy out to watch as they mate… or something like that. I’m still not completely sure I understand turkey mating habits.)
As the big, puffy tom was walking around, I was inside the blind fumbling, trying to get the bow loaded and ready to take a shot. Meanwhile, Tony was calm, talking me through the shot and where I should be aiming.
The tom turned away from us, and I finally had my chance! Tony told me to draw back the bow and get ready. Unfortunately, that’s when things went downhill. I pulled on the bow string and barely got it to budge. So I adjusted myself slightly in my chair (I’d never shot a bow seated before – who would’ve thought it was so much different…), took a deep breathe and pulled again. This time, my shoulder went pop, pop, pop and a jolt of pain ran through my arm and down my back. I still wasn’t able to get the bow string to pull all the way back. Crap. So I told Tony he needed to take the shot – I didn’t want this opportunity (and his efforts) to go wasted.
Then it was Tony’s turn to fumble around in the blind trying to get in position and get his bow loaded. Then his cellphone started to ring. (What!?! How was that thing not on silent?) Thankfully, he kept calling and the birds stayed within range. On Tony’s second attempt, he hit the turkey. Success!
While I was (and still am) pretty irritated that I didn’t perform the way I thought/expected I would, I really enjoyed my hunting experience! (It wasn’t like I was expecting to get a turkey the first time, but I didn’t think I’d have any troubles drawing the bow. I’ve been practicing that for months.) The adrenaline rush was cool, and I was amazed at how beautiful and colorful turkeys are. I’m already looking forward to my next hunting trip and working to build strength in my arm so I can get the shot next time.
Who knows, maybe if I’m lucky, I will actually get my first turkey.