Hunter’s Journal: A Gobbler For Dad
By David Blan
My father, Bruce Blan, went turkey hunting for the first time on opening day in 1992. Twenty six seasons and countless heartbreaks later, he finally killed his first gobbler.
My dad has hunted with some of the best turkey hunters I know and has been on several guided hunts, but no one has been able to make it happen for him. He mainly hunts with his brother (Uncle Ben) and I, and both of us killed our fair share of gobblers over the years.
The morning before the 2018 turkey season opener, my father and uncle went to our lease to locate a bird for the next morning. Around 9 that morning, my dad called me and said they’d heard three different birds that morning.
Unfortunately, opening day was a bust, just like the past 26 years.
After a few hunts, I noticed this one bird was always roosted in about the same spot. When he started gobbling, the other two gobblers in the area would stop. By week two, the other birds completely stopped gobbling or moved on. This was an old, smart bird.
On four different occasions, the bird was seen by either my dad, my uncle or myself, and on two different occasions, he was within 50 yards, but both times there just wasn’t a clear shot due to how thick it is on our lease.
On May 4, I called a good friend of mine, Luke Harris, and asked him if he could come help me call to this bird, and without hesitation he agreed.
So on May 5, my dad, Luke and I headed over there like so many times before, but this morning would be different. This would be the day my dad would finally seal the deal!
As I was digging for my crow call, the gobbler sounded off all by himself on the edge of a small food plot, so we headed that way. As we arrived and began to set up decoys, he gobbled and was a lot closer than we originally thought. We set up a jake and hen decoy and slowly crawled back down the road to where Dad was waiting. The only place for Dad to get was on a small pine tree that was surrounded by the biggest briar patch on the whole property. So I grabbed the calls I needed, took my vest off, laid it on top of the briar patch so my dad could use it to hopefully not get stuck by briars.
Luke and I set up about 25 yards behind Dad, and Luke said, “We need to let the gobbler know we are here.”
We gave him two little yelps and a cluck just to let him know where we were, and he immediately gobbled. I looked over at Luke and said, “Man if you can help me get this bird for my dad, I’ll take you on a guided turkey hunt to Texas.”
Little did I know in seven minutes that statement was going to cost me a trip for two to Texas. We’ve watched this bird fly down three different times, and it was always between 7:30 and 8:00, but this time he didn’t waste any time. He hit the ground at 6:57.
When he landed in the food plot, I looked over at Dad, and he didn’t have his gun up. We figured he would fly down on his normal time. After he landed, I couldn’t see him, and my heart sank because I thought this would be just another disappointment for my dad. However, Luke said, “Oh my gosh, here he comes. Don’t move, I see him, and he’s coming.”
My heart was beating 200 beats per minute because I’ve been trying to call in a turkey for my dad since I was 13 years old. Then all of the sudden, I saw him step out in the road in full strut and head straight for the decoys. At that moment, he was only 40 yards from Dad.
I’ve killed a lot of turkeys, but I’ve never seen one put on a show like this one did. He strutted around for five minutes spitting and drumming as Dad waited for a clear shot. Fortunately the bird gave Dad plenty of time to get his gun up.
All I remember is praying, “Jesus, please give him this bird” over and over and over. Then it changed to “Shoot him, Dad. Shoot him, Dad.”
Luke gave the gobbler a short cackle, and when he did, the bird stepped right into the middle of the road. He came out of strut, and Dad was able to get the shot. At 23 yards, Dad hammered him!
I can’t explain the emotional roller coaster my dad has been on for the past 26 years because it would take up this whole GON issue, but what happened at 7:04 topped them all! When Dad shot, I jumped up and ran to the turkey. I was ready to fight him to the death after what my dad had been through. When I got to the gobbler, I couldn’t help it, but I just started crying.
I bet I hugged Dad 100 times. I think I even hugged Luke a couple times. We were so excited we really didn’t know what to do. We called everyone we knew and took 100 pictures. My Dad has been taking my brother and I hunting and fishing since we were old enough to walk. He always made sure that we got the best spot whether it was hunting or fishing. He is the most selfless man I know, and I feel so blessed to have been able to be with him when his dream came true. Not only did he kill his first gobbler, but he killed a nice one at that.
The bird had two beards, the longest was 10 inches and the shortest was 6 inches. He sported two impressive spurs that both measured 1 3/8 inches. There’s been a whole lot of “me” and “I” in the story I just told you. However, the truth is that if it were not for my Savior Jesus Christ, none of it would have been possible.
Thanks to my dad and my Uncle Ben for always taking me hunting and teaching me how to be a man. I love both of you more than I will ever be able to show. Thank the good Lord above for dads and uncles who hunt.
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