Gobbler by the Creek
A Father’s Quest For Son’s First Turkey
As any Father that is a hardcore hunter can attest, the day will come when you shift from scouting for your next gobbler to scouting for someone else’s. The efforts are heartfelt and the excitement rivals your first few seasons as a turkey hunter. The quest for your son, daughter, or anyone you introduce to turkey hunting, has new meaning and with it comes more pressure than you ever put on yourself. Properly introducing young people to turkey hunting takes effort and sacrifice. It’s all worth it when the effort and sacrifice pay off by successfully introducing someone new to hunting and the outdoor lifestyle. Their success is your success and it feels that way too. To convey the energy and the excitement through you and to them isn’t always easy.
Keep The Young Turkey Hunter Excited
Many youngsters can’t wait to get in the woods and see a strutting gobbler move in. The anticipation for many is maybe years long while others might not feel it just yet. Being patient and not pushing those that are somewhat reserved is a vital part of successfully introducing a youngster to turkey hunting. Keep them posted on what you’re seeing. If they aren’t able to scout with you every trip. Convey your findings with excitement in your voice. Be realistic but positive about the upcoming hunt. Ask them if they have any questions and let them talk about turkey hunting all they want to.
Pattern Turkey Gun
Shoot with the future turkey hunter and explain patterning and the way the shells pattern differently. Explain effective range and what the range will be for the gun they are shooting and why. Even if they don’t seem to understand or seem to not care, only focusing on the hunt, all these lessons will come together and while they might not seem to hear you they do and they will pull them from their memory bank one day and be thankful for them. All of this builds up to the day of the hunt and a rewarding experience.
Successfully calling in a bird on the hunters’ first morning is the next challenge. When it happens all the hard work seems well worth it, the harvest more exciting than if it was your own. The next lesson is teaching the importance of handling the harvest and learning to prepare it for the table. Discussing recipes on the way back to the truck is a great way to get the young hunter thinking about the reasons we hunt and the importance of enjoying the harvest after the hunt. Gobbler by the Creek is the story of a successful father that happily spent his time scouting for his son. Jeff & Nathaniel Holland made the most of the first week of turkey season in Alabama.
Father And Son Turkey Hunt
The weeks leading up to the opening of Alabama’s youth turkey season was wet. The rain was relentless, but it would not dampen Jeff’s spirits in locating a good spot to set up the turkey blind that he and his son Nathaniel would hunt from opening morning. Jeff’s search for Nathaniel’s first turkey would start on some hunting club property where a lot of good times are spent outdoors chasing game. Scouting an area that you hunt often begins with memory. Memory of where you have seen turkeys before. Maybe an old oak tree where the turkeys love to roost or an open food plot where they just seem to always hang out. Scouting for turkeys can be about as fun as hunting them. To hear a gobble in the distance right where you expected them to be is all that you need to plan your hunt.
Not many things in a young turkey hunters’ life is more exciting than receiving their very own turkey gun. A .410 guage shotgun has never been very popular in the turkey woods. That is until recently. Jeff took advantage of the shot technology in the TSS loads and was able to pattern Nathaniel’s new turkey gun, a Stevens 301 .410 Gauge Single shot in Mossy Oak Camo and a Fyland Gun Sight Scope. The perfect combo for young hunters and deadly for sure as will be laid out plenty as Nathaniel’s story will tell. Nathaniel’s new turkey gun patterned well, even out to 40 yards.
With the shooting practice complete it was now time for that much anticipated opening morning and the sounds of distant gobblers preparing to fly off the roost and locate some hens. The days were long and the nights a bit restless leading up to that first morning with his own turkey gun and Nathaniel couldn’t wait. Then the unthinkable happened and that opening day and that night would become the longest of all the days leading up to the opener, combined.
Turkey Hunt Spoiled
Jeff and Nathaniel’s opening morning didn’t turn out as planned. The headlights broke the pre-dawn black as they headed down the road to the hunting property. The road was still wet, but it looked like a good morning to chase turkeys. Don’t all those cool spring mornings? The excitement took a hit though as the headlights began to reflect off of the water that flooded the access road. The hunt ended before it started on opening day. The gobblers were safe from Nathaniel’s new turkey gun that day.
The spirits were dampened that first day, but it looked good that the road would clear enough for Sunday. Sunday morning was daja’vu as once again the lights danced across the gravel road. It was still wet, but the rainless Saturday had the water from the nearby creek receding throughout the night. There was much anticipation inside the cab as silence replaced the excited chatter of a boy and his father discussing the many scenarios that were sure to play out. Then the chatter resumed with even more vigor as two turkey hunters realized the morning sun would paint the field where the turkey blind was set up. The flooded spot was clear and the hunt would happen on this beautiful Sunday morning.
The morning sunrise was perfect, but the woods was much too quiet. That smidgen of second guessing was setting in, as it often does when turkeys refuse to gobble early. Usually the second guessing starts in your mind much sooner than it should, which is what happened on this morning. Jeff called periodically never getting too aggressive, which proved to be vital to this hunt. The turkeys were down and they were close all along, but they just didn’t want to talk. That is until shortly after a subtle call from the turkey blind is answered by two big gobblers around the corner.
Here They Come
The two big toms were on a rope and Jeff had to scramble to get his mouth call ready for the closing calls that would get these birds into range. Turns out not a lot of closing calls were needed as the two birds came running. Like most great hunts, the whole thing unfolded lightening fast and before Jeff and Nathaniel knew it both toms were within range and one quickly became a little spooky. With a little coaching Nathaniel was ready for the shot. Truth told Nathaniel probably already knew exactly what to do without the coaching, but it’s always a good idea to go through the motions verbally with a young hunter. It’s very easy to forget to load or click off the safety when this kind of action is happening just a few short yards outside your set up.
Nathaniel wasted no time with the shot because his dad was telling him about the other bird getting a little spooky. The Stevens 301 .410 did a number on the gobbler and Nathaniel’s first turkey was down and it was a great turkey too. A beard measuring 9 3/8″ with a left spur of 7/8″ and a right of 13/16″. The weight of the turkey was 19.5 pounds.
Big Turkey Down
The bird was down, but the hunt was hardly over. There would be many high fives and deep hearted discussions about the hunt and everything leading up to it. Many of the words that day will survive the memory robber for both father and son. Those words will linger for days and years as each hunt adds more great memories filled with happy times. These times outdoors with your father, mother or a friend will provide many stories to tell around a campfire or shooting range as you prepare for another turkey season.
Salute To All Who Share The Outdoors
A shout out is in order for Jeff and all the people that take the time to find someone to introduce to the outdoors and exert the effort to share the excellent lifestyle it provides. Those that have done it know how great it feels and those that haven’t should consider doing so. It could change someone’s life and it will make you feel good too.
Update From The Turkey Woods
Nathaniel just harvested another turkey with his dad. Here is the message I got as I was just starting to write this article.
Jeff: “Nathaniel shot him another one this morning. Great morning in the woods with my son.”
Me: “Did he use that .410 again?”
Jeff: “Yes sir. 27 steps. Never took another step. Just dropped!”
I could feel the excitement in Jeff’s words for his son’s hunt. Then the next morning I get another message from Jeff, but this time it’s his gobbler that shines.
Jeff: “I got me one this morning. 3 hunts 3 birds.”
Me: “That’s awesome!”
Jeff: “Yes sir. I am on cloud nine!”
Me: “I would be too. Talking to you about Nathaniel’s first turkey and then your son killing another one and now you getting a great bird has me fired up for my hunt. Thanks for sharing.”
CONGRATULATIONS JEFF AND NATHANIEL ON A GREAT TURKEY SEASON SO FAR