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Grandson’s First Tom

Although it was still dark as we unloaded our gear, the obvious sounds of the gobbling tom turkeys could be heard coming from the nearby trees. Anxious to get set-up, I hurried my grandson Dex and informed him again of the need for our being as quiet as possible.

Throughout the setting up of our blind and the locating of our turkey decoys, the ever-present sounds of the awakening turkeys elevated our pulse rates and pushed us into a modified “warp speed set-up.”

Shortness of patience was evident on my part as my young and somewhat inexperienced grandson did his very best to assist with the necessary aspects of our preparations. However, he performed like an experienced hunter and finally we could exhale and seat ourselves in the ready position inside our pop-up blind.

The decoys were positioned within twenty to twenty-two yards, the range of the .410 Gauge shotgun Dex was using, a shotgun my own Dad had acquired as a youth and I’d been blessed to inherit. Although Dad was no longer physically with us, his spirit was and we were all eager and ready for this new and exciting adventure. A prayer for safety and success having been already said, we anxiously awaited the fly-down of the turkeys.

As darkness disappeared, the hens were letting the tom’s know where they were and as we peered through the early morning light, we watched them fly down, one-by-one, with the toms close behind.

Once on the ground, the flock grouped together with the hens leading and slowly feeding towards our location. The toms were trailing and fanned out in their glory for all to see. It appeared that strutting with puffed chests truly is a male thing!

Regardless of which calling method I used, they initially seemed oblivious to my pleading and their procession seemed to have a predetermined route. Finally a large tom showed interest and broke from the flock and wandered within range of my 12 gauge shotgun, but he still wouldn’t come to the decoys and within range of Dex’s .410.

Not wanting to spoil Dex’s opportunity for the first shot, I held my shot and reluctantly watched as the Long-beard turned and rejoined the flock. Double dang! Within minutes another tom broke from the crowd and seemed interested in making friends with our decoys.

Having already coached Dex as to where to shoot a turkey (“where the pretty ends and the ugly begins” meaning the neck region), I told him to not move until I gave him the okay.

The tom continued to close the distance until he was within the group of decoys and realized that they weren’t as welcoming as he had hoped for. His body language indicated that it was about time to flee, when I instructed Dex to slowly raise his shotgun, aim at the neck and squeeze the trigger.

When you’re sitting next to someone and coaching, time seems to move in reverse and after what appeared to be an eternity, the shotgun barked, the smoke cleared and the tom had met his match. A few flaps later, our anticipated prize had been successfully harvested.

With some of the birds still within viewing distance, I told Dex that we’d remain quiet and see what might happen next. For a brief instance, another bird seemed intent on also coming to our decoys, but he must have decided that the fate his buddy had met wasn’t worth meeting the new and enticing girlfriend decoys we had waiting for him.

As he wandered off, Dex and I high-fived, hugged and gave thanks for a very special and wonderful hunting experience together and for the spirit of his great-grandfather, who was with us and shared in this rewarding outdoor adventure.

We retrieved Dex’s trophy, a legitimate Tom, and my camera was soon clicking out our memories. The pictures of this event show a very proud and grateful grandson and his grandfather sharing an incredibly special moment, with the wide grins to prove it.

Read more exciting hunting stories in Born a Hunter: Thirty Hunting Adventures from Around the World by Dwight Van Brunt.

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