It’s 4:30 AM and I’m sitting in the truck looking at the rain pouring down, making it impossible to see out the windshield. My Remington 870 is laying in its case on the back seat with my camo folded neatly next to it. I’ve only got 15 minutes to decide if it’s worth sitting out in the rain to try to shoot my first turkey. I think to myself, “I didn’t come this far to not shoot a turkey.” 10 minutes after we park, the rain slows to a drizzle, as we are getting dressed to go out, it slows to a mist and a thick fog covers the entire woods.
I’ve got my 870 loaded and we start on the mile hike to the spot that was carefully chosen and cleared out the day before. We finally get set up and settled into the woods, about 25 yards inside the woods on an ATV trail that opens up into a large field, when I hear the first gobbles of the morning about 250 yards away. My heart jumps at the sound and these particular turkeys are feeling incredibly vocal, each gobble making my heart race faster and faster. It is still raining, the slate call can’t get wet so we are fighting the elements to call under the fabric around the camera and tripod. I’m soaking wet and cold, but turkeys are gobbling and I couldn’t be happier!
The bids fly the roost and start coming towards the sweet sound of that slate call purr. Wes, my guide, lines the camera up with the crest of the hill the birds are going to come down. We can hear the birds working their way across the mountain towards us. Just as we think they will pop up over the hill, the sound of their gobbles is muffled as if they were getting farther away from us. My heart sinks in my chest and I listen intently to hear them gobble again. I hear a single gobble, and it’s louder than ever! They didn’t walk away, they were just moving through a depression on the mountain. I see them reach the crest of the hill about 80 yards away. My heart feels like it’s going to pound out of my chest and I start to shake! I get my shotgun up and ready, praying that these birds keep working their way to us.
It’s almost as if we had them on a rope, pulling them in to us. They pause, and Wes let out a soft purr on the slate call (which is still under the tripod) to entice them closer. All three of these birds gobble and one goes into strut. It’s a beautiful sight, I’ve never seen anything like it! This was the first time I’ve ever seen a turkey in the wild. I flip the safety off of the gun as I watch these beautiful, wet, turkeys come down the hill. Now the turkeys are near the wood line, only about 30 yards away! I can see them craning their necks upward looking for that sweet ol’ hen inside the woods. The first bird walks past the shooting lane I had into the field. The bird in the middle stops behind a bush. “Oh crap! Did he see us?” I think to myself. Then he takes two or three steps forward, right into my shooting lane. Before I register what happened, natural instinct took over, I feel my finger pull the trigger, I hear the boom and in the clearing there is a turkey flopping on the ground!
Wes is pushing me up from my seat on the wet forest floor, yelling in my ear, “Go! Go! Go!” As I get up, I remember that I have to pump the gun and turn the safety back on. I’m running up to my bird and I can’t stop smiling as I pick it up and run back to where we had been sitting. I’m stunned by the color in the feathers and filled with the excitement of a new hunter with her first kill! Something we all can relate to, I’m crying tears of joy, laughing, and my hands are shaking from the adrenaline! I’ll without a doubt never forget my first spring turkey hunt and can’t wait to one day guide new hunters and tell them this story!
Until next time!