Hunter’s Journal – April 2021

Reader Contributed | April 5, 2021

By Justin Lance

Opening day of the 2020 youth season, I took my son Benton turkey hunting for the first time ever.

We had prepared and worked on a setup and how to shoot and where to aim for the prior two days leading up to turkey season. I tried to prepare him for long walks and long waits on getting a bird to cooperate and work in to a call. I told him he would have to be very still and quiet and sometimes they may come up without any warning. I explained to him it took me over a year to kill my first turkey when I started turkey hunting over 20 years ago.

Well, as you can see in the picture, that all went out the window real quick!

After a couple owl calls right at daybreak, we had one gobble a few times on the roost. We made our way closer and set up on a small food plot. I set out a jake and hen decoy and got us set up right off the edge of the plot. Daylight was happening fast, and I knew we had to get down and settled quickly.

A hen started some light yelps in the distance and BAM, two gobblers sounded off right in front of us. So I stuck a diaphragm call in my mouth and grabbed my slate call. I hit two light yelps on the slate and immediately got a gobble. Again the hen got a little louder. So I answered her back and again got another gobble. It wasn’t but another minute or two, and I saw up on the ridge in front of us a turkey pitch down into the hardwoods.

I thought maybe that he had seen us getting set up and for sure would be heading the other way. Benton then said he saw another one fly down, also.

Keep in mind that in order for him to shoot the gun, he has to sit in between my legs on a pad. I propped the gun up on my knee and let him lean against my chest as he steadies his shoulder and the stock while aiming. We had tried this set up at the house while aiming at a decoy. I was very skeptical that this was going to work or that he could aim it without moving too much to not scare off anything and everything around.

So, right after the couple of birds flew down, I decided to call a little more aggressively in hoping that we did not get busted while they were on the roost. So I hit a few yelps and cackles on the slate and sure enough two birds gobbled back to back. The next thing I know I saw two turkeys in full sprint coming off the ridge directly toward us. I almost panicked but told Benton to get ready.

The best thing about this setup and how perfect it ended up being is that when the turkeys came off the ridge about 100 yards away, they had to go down into a slight ditch before coming back up to the plot where we were set up. So as soon as they went in that ditch and out of sight, I dropped the slate and helped him to steady the gun and get aimed to where I thought they would come into the plot. Only a few seconds later, both toms came running up into the plot, no more than 15 yards away.

I whispered to Benton, “Can you see them?”

“Yes,” he said.

“OK shoot if you can.”

BOOM and immediately a bird started flapping around. At the same time I saw a couple more run off into the hardwoods and stop and start to putt.

Benton jumped up and said, “I GOT IT, I GOT IT.”

I was excited and shocked all at the same time. WOW that really just happened is all I could think. I almost couldn’t believe it. I have never had a turkey come in that fast off the roost.

We immediately got up and went over to the bird that was still flapping on the ground. I stuck the stock of the gun on its neck to make sure he was dead because I definitely did not want this thing getting up and flying off!

While I was doing that, Benton said, “Dad, look there is another one,” and sure enough 5 yards away in the edge of the woods was another bird. This one was moving its head a little but was definitely hit. We quickly made sure he was dead and got them both into the food plot.

Wow, what a hunt, and again one Benton will not soon forget. From the struggles of hunting a buck for weeks and weeks and it finally paying off, to my son shooting two turkeys within the first 20 minutes of turkey season. This has been a hunting season neither Benton nor I will soon forget.

Benton loves the woods, and I love to take him. Hopefully we continue to build unforgettable experiences for many, many years to come.

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