Illinois hunting and fishing

Tales from the Timber: First turkey

April 20, 2010 at 11:15 AM

April 3 this year during the youth turkey season was a great day in the woods for a father to enjoy his 12-year-old son’s first turkey hunt.

My son Chase was a little unsure what to expect, this being his first time out chasing spring gobblers. But to say he was excited is an understatement. Saturday’s forecast was for rain and having just two days to hunt, there was no doubt we would be out anyway.

We had three ground blinds set up so we could keep dry. One of those blinds was a hay bale blind Chase’s grandpa, Dan, built for deer and turkey hunting.

Before daylight we were situated in one of the ground blinds in the pasture along the edge of an 80-acre patch of woods. As daylight began to reveal our surroundings, I made a few calls using a box call and a glass/slate call hoping to summon a gobble from a roosted tom.

For the next 45 minutes I continued calling and talking to Chase about the habits of turkeys and how to hunt them. We discussed the difference between toms, hens and jakes their unique colors and which birds were legal to shoot. After some calling sequences and a little snack we were yet to see a turkey.

I told Chase that we were going to pack up and move to the hay bale blind a little closer to where were heard some turkeys gobbling before dawn. Not long after getting settled in the hay bale blind we saw a hen out in the pasture I decided to make a few calls to see if a tom might be close by.

Chase then noticed out in the picked cornfield a group of turkeys that were heading our direction. I made a few calls and the one tom in the group started to strut and move to our location with five hens following. When we realized the turkeys were heading to the decoys we had set out I told Chase to get the gun ready and pointed out the front window.

In no time at all the hens crossed the creek and were standing at the decoys. Chase’s eyes were as big as saucers and his heart was racing. Patiently waiting for the strutting tom, Chase looked out the side window and noticed the big gobbler just 12 yards away going up the hill.

I told him to quick move the gun to the side window before the bird got into the heavy brush. Chase did a great job readjusting and getting the bead on the tom’s head. With his adrenalin pumping, I said, “Shoot now.”

At the shot the bird went down the look on Chase’s face was priceless I can only imagine what mine looked like. I am so proud of him taking his first turkey and what a bird. The gobbler weighed 21 lbs, had 1 1/4-inch spurs and a 10-inch beard. After a few high fives, pictures and many phone calls to family and friends I asked Chase, “Which do you like better? Deer or turkey hunting.”

He said, “Both.”

Smart boy. I think he is hooked on the outdoors. Who knows maybe he will get his first deer this 2010 youth season.