On Friday, my son Tyler and I, left Springfield, Mo., in Southwest Missouri around 8:30 p.m. and made it to Sikeston in Southeast Missouri and his Grandma's house as a base of operation for the weekend. We were in bed around 1 a.m., which would make for a short nap before the opening day of Missouri's Spring Youth Turkey Season.
On Saturday at around 3:30 a.m., we started getting ready and having donuts for breakfast. We left Sikeston around 4 a.m. heading to private land in Perry County that we had permission to hunt on and I have scouted and hunted for several years. Arriving around 5 a.m., we got our vestS on and equipment over our shoulders and walked in.
As we walked in, we jumped a deer in the tree line and listened to it run off into the field. Then a pack of coyotes close by sounded off and Tyler said, "That's cool, but scary." Then we jumped another deer further down the tree line. We got the Double Bull blind and three Delta decoy hens and one Delta Jake decoy set up along a tree line in a clover field where I had spotted the gobblers during a scouting trip a few weeks before. We settled in about 5:30 a.m. and waited for daybreak. At 6 o'clock, we heard about five gobblers but nothing close, we filled the morning with a guessing game we call, I am thinking of an animal.
About 12 p.m., we watch a gobbler make his way out of the rye grass about 300 yards away across a fescue field, then disappear below the ridge but still coming closer. We both called and waited. About 12:45 p.m., we called it a day and packed up, but as we walked to the end of the tree line, the gobbler was getting a drink at a small spot that held water at the start of the tree line. It was almost 80 degrees on this day, I should have figured on that. Tyler said, "Oh well, there's always tomorrow."
On the way to back to Sikeston, we saw about 20 turkeys at a pond. I can't believe that many birds were together this time of year, but it was only getting hotter.
DAY TWO -- LAST CHANCE
On Sunday at 4 a.m., the alarm sounded and again we got ourselves ready and ate donuts for breakfast. We left Sikeston around 4:30 and made it to private land in Perry County, about 5:30. We walked to the trees near the old barn in the center of the row crop farm. Tyler and I had talked about changing the strategy and head for the direction of the gobbling.
This time we waited to here some gobbling. We did some owl hooting with no response. But, we finally heard, barely audible, two birds gobbling far in the distance around 6:10. One gobbler was sounding off to the South on the other side of the road. The other gobbler was sounding off to the North in the other direction. Too far to head in either direction.
At 6:30 a.m., Tyler decided we should just go ahead and set up on top of the ridge in last year's corn field.
I have watched videos and TV shows on the Outdoor Channel of hunts using blinds in wide-open fields, but I never hunted like this before, with the closet cover 100 yards away. But it was the highest spot on the property and we could see in every direction. Also, the decoys would be able to be seen from a long distance, which might make the difference.
I would call, about every ten minutes with a box call so it would carry for a long distance. About 7:15, I watched a gobbler walking way through the fescue field about 200 yards to the west and in the direction of the rye grass, I assumed it was the gobbler from yesterday.
I unzipped the waterfowl zipper in the top of the Double Bull blind so I could stand up and watch with a monocular and call. I asked Tyler to use his push-
button call so that I could watch to see it's response.
The gobbler would stop and look, but kept walking away. He would stop and look as Tyler would call. I tried the box call one last time because it was about to disappear into the rye grass. When I hit the call, to my surprise, two gobblers sounded off to the north just 70 yards away. Can't believe I had not seen them coming from the tree line over 400 yards away.
I dropped down back into the blind and Tyler and I closed up the windows in the blind behind us, so that our movement would not be seen.
I told Tyler two gobblers were coming this way so we stuck the gun out one of the windows facing the decoys as I finished closing the top of the blind and we watched for them to come up over the rise.
I could see a head and pointed to it and asked Tyler if he could see it. He said, "Yes." I told him to get ready and put the sight on the gobbler's head. They both came into view. Both adult gobblers with nice eight to 10-inch beards, strutting the entire way.
Now that Tyler was ready, watching them through the Ring-O-Fire rear sight, I grabbed the camcorder and turned it on and pushed record. But, it was on photo. So I had to turn another switch while watching both gobblers come in.
Tyler asked me if he should take the safety off. I said "Yes, but keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to shoot."
They did the entire show. Spitting and drumming the entire way in on video. I called quietly with by vocal calling and the push button call to bring them in closer.
Both gobblers were right next to each other. I told Tyler to wait until they came in closer. They were just 20 yards away now. I asked Tyler if he had them in his sights. He said, "Yes." I glanced over and watched him as he was following the gobblers as they moved from right to left as they came in. I told him to take him when he was ready. BOOOOM! The 20-gauge Mossberg 500 Bantam pump thundered away. I watched the shot on the screen and then looked up. Both birds flew straight up and came straight back down. At first I thought Tyler missed. One gobbler went one direction and the other, the other direction. But the first gobbler then dropped to the ground as the Winchester's Supreme Double-X Magnum and high velocity turkey loads found its mark. The second gobbler stopped, ran back and started pecking and flogging the first gobbler. This made the first gobbler get back up and start running. I told Tyler to shoot him again; I thought he was going to run away.
Tyler shot, but I don't know if he missed or hit with the second shot. Either way, the gobbler went about 10 yards and dropped to the ground as the second bird ran toward the tree line this time.
I told Tyler to put the gun on safety and put it on the ground. As soon as he did, I threw up the blind and ran out, with Tyler following, and put my boot on the gobbler to make sure it was down for good.
I grabbed Tyler with both arms and gave him a big hug and told him congratulations, great shot and a great bird. I re-wound the tape to show Tyler. But, dad's excitement got the better of him…I never pushed record a second time after I switched it over. So I missed the entire hunt on video. Cuz Strickland has nothing to worry about with me video taping.
I did videotape the aftermath of the hunt. I asked Tyler what he thought of turkey hunting as he picked up the gobbler, trying to hold it up.
Not one hunt I've ever been on was as great as this one. Every moment I have spent in the woods and every dime I have spent on hunting was worth this hunt with Tyler. If I never hunted another day in my life, it wouldn't matter after today.
I would like to thank the Missouri Department of Conservation for the fine job they have done with the wild turkeys in Missouri and the establishment of the Youth Season.
Something I never did and wished I had was to have my first Gobbler mounted. So Tyler's first wild turkey will be mounted in full strut.
After we started looking at the gobbler, I told him this was a great turkey. We put the tag on and even though, in Missouri, you can use the tele-check system. I still drove him to the official check-in station to have his gobbler checked.
As they told me, this would be the last time they check in turkeys because of the tele-check system, so I was glad I chose this method for the day, since it's about to become a tradition lost to progress.
Hope to see you and your kids in the woods or on the water. Horntagger.