Great stories. Thanks for sharing those. I actually got started chasing those limb hangers in 2004. Jeff, one of the guys at our hunting camp, talked about how he couldn't wait until March so he could hunt these things we call turkeys. At the time, I did not understand why Jeff would pass up a chance to take a huge buck just to shoot a butterball. The last day of deer season, I took a wide racked 8pt which I was very proud of. While we were all taking photos and doing high fives, Jeff asked if I would like to try turkey hunting during the Spring season and I said "sure, why not."
I didn't think anything of it for a month until he called one evening around the first week in March. We agreed on a time and met at the hunting camp early on opening day the season. We made our way into an 80 acre clearcut and set up about halfway up on one side. He told me that he had seen several longbeards in this clearcut during deer season. I mentioned I had hunted it alot during deer season and never saw the first turkey. As night became day, the woods and everything in and around it came to life, something I don't think I noticed during deer season. A turkey gobbled a little ways off from us, and I thought this was going to be easy. We waited until daylight and he said let's move, and we did, and off flew our bird.
Throughout that day Jeff took me through everything he knew about turkeys, not just how to hunt them but, everything he knew, where they sleep, where they fly to roost, what they eat, what they do on the ground. We decided to meet again the next morning and try it again. Everything started the same, except that we set up in the back this time. Jeff sat down at base of a big pine and as I was halfway into a sitting position next to Jeff, the bird gobbled.
I tell you all of that to say this. There is a moment in a turkey hunters life that you become hooked and that moment was mine. Through what little moonlight was left I could see him on the limb. I watched this bird spread his wings and flap them as the sun come up so he could get the dew off of them. I listen and watched him gobble at the owls, the crows, and everything else that made a noise, just like Jeff said turkeys do. Jeff softly purred several times and he responded and looked into the clearcut. Jeff said he's coming. I had my gun pointed out into the clearcut as he flew down from the tree he was in. I could not for the life of me stop shaking, I didn't know my gun could or would make noise from shaking but, it did.
The gobbler walked straight at us and Jeff said to wait because he couldn't see him from where he was but, I could. I would have rather taken bamboo shoots under my nails than to have watched that bird walk to us, I was terrified. The day before Jeff told me
that if we get a bird in then he would putt so that he would stop and look up, then I would have about 2 to 3 seconds to shoot. The bird was 15 yards from us and I whispered for him to putt but, Jeff said he still couldn't see him because of the bushes in his way. I tried my best to steady my gun and I pulled the trigger.
The bird was so close I saw the wad hit him and he started flopping. Jeff jumped up and said, "You got your first bird." I couldn't move for several minutes. Once I got up, I did what every other turkey hunter does. My first bird was 23 lbs, had two 9.5 inch beards and 1.5 inch spurs. From that day on, I have been a turkey hunter everyday. I think about those things we call turkeys every single day. I have had the privilege of taking my sons with me and teaching them what I have learned. I was there when they took their first bird. I'm not able to hunt this season due to being deployed but, you can bet I will be thinking about it until next season.
Thanks for letting me share that.