Her First Turkey Hunt: Reaching Out to New Hunters
Article contributed by Field Staff Writer K. Fischer.
As I knelt down and peered out the small back window of my blind, to attempt to put a face to the gobble I heard, I felt a swift “thump” to the back of my head that about knocked me over. I quickly turned around to address this, and saw a giant smile on Megan’s face as our big tom was slowly coming into view through my front window.
I had never met Megan before she sent me a message on social media, inquiring about hunting. Her message indicated that she had no one in her life to show her the ropes, no connections to any ground, and very little experience. However, what caught my attention was her genuine desire to become involved with the sport in every aspect. I am all too familiar with the women of social media who hunt for pictures and attention, and invest very little time and express very little passion into hunting in its entirety. Megan wanted to learn it all, so that she could venture out on her own. Because of this, I decided to abandon my preference to hunt solo, and take her along. I offered for her to use my shotgun, for the chance to shoot her first bird.
Her “:D REALLY?! YES!!!!!!” response had me determined to put her on her first bird. We set out the first time, and encountered two wary toms I called in multiple times, only to have them hang out just outside of range. The second time was much the same. Slightly discouraged, I started running through all the things I could be doing differently. I called friends in the industry and discussed my decoy placement and selection, calling techniques etc. I was successful on my first two times out, and was becoming frustrated that my first time taking someone wasn’t going as planned. However, she was still eager to get back in the field.
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I pulled up to the gate on our third time out, and started unloading my truck. As we hiked up the ridge, I let out a few yelps and smiled as I heard a few instant, yet distant replies. I set up the blind as Megan set the decoys. We climbed into the blind, and I put my diaphragm call to work. I heard a few responses that appeared to be coming from the corn field at the bottom of the ridge. After about an hour of going back and forth, we heard a loud gobble that came from behind our blind, less than 20 yards. Hearts racing, I instructed Megan to get the gun ready.
When the Tom came into view, I watched her eyes get bigger. It took me back to my first time in the field, and I caught myself sharing her same nerves and excitement. We watched as he pecked at my DSD Jake, knocking it over. I saw her tense up as he jumped and ran away from the decoy, so I quickly whispered to her that he’d come right back. As he cautiously made his way back towards the Jake, Megan put her cheek against my shotgun, and looked over at me. I drew my bow for a back up shot if needed, and told her to breathe, and fire away when she was ready. The tom slowly turned broadside and the woods were filled with the sounds of my Benelli and the screams of two girls who had just completed a successful hunt.
I’ll never forget her reaction after she shot her first tom. We walked up to the bird, knelt down beside it, recapped every single second leading up to the shot. I was surprised to hear the shakiness in my own voice, and feel the goosebumps on my skin. She thanked me over and over as I told her how proud of her I was.
As I taught her how to clean the bird, she told me this was the first of many hunts yet to come for her. I sent her home with the meat, beard and fan of her bird so she could make a mount dedicated to her first hunt. Driving home that night, I thought to myself, that was quite possibly one of the best experiences I’d ever been a part of, and how eternally grateful I was to have been allowed that opportunity. It reaffirms that our sport isn’t necessarily about the kill, rather the moments like this that humble us and allow us to share in something that’s bigger than we are. Megan and I entered that field as complete strangers, and left as friends, eager to continue to share tips, recipes, and experiences.
Megan prepared her first turkey using Hank Shaw’s Wild Turkey Carnitas Recipe.
Read more turkey hunting tales and recipes.
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Chasing Toms: Tips and Tricks for Turkey Hunting