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First Turkey

By Greg Neath

First TurkeyWhenever a dad gets the chance to hunt with his son, it’s going to be a time to remember. The spring 2007 season was particularly memorable for me because I was able to take my son turkey hunting for the first time.

It was late January in Utah. We anxiously waited to hear if the 2007 season would be the year that we finally drew a coveted turkey tag.  But then the disheartening email arrived, informing us that, once again, we had not drawn a tag.

The look of disappointment on my 15-year-old’s face sparked an idea: Let’s hunt out of state!

Within minutes, we were on the Internet, looking for a place to go. At the Idaho Fish and Game’s website, we discovered that a non-resident can purchase a turkey tag over the counter, and youth hunting opportunities are very affordable there. The website also provides a very comprehensive hunt planner. We decided right then and there that we’d be hunting turkeys in Idaho that year.

On April 6, the day before the hunt, I checked my son out of school early, and we headed for the Gem State. We arrived at the hunting area just before sunset, and camped there for the night.

As the first light of morning broke, we were greeted by the gobble of a turkey. We grabbed our daypacks, decoys and my son’s shotgun, and headed out. Soon, we were setting up our three decoys and were ready to put our calling techniques to the test. Hopefully, all that practice of mimicking the turkey calls we’d heard on TV hunting shows would pay off.

After calling for nearly an hour with no response, though, we decided to relocate. We settled in at another good-looking spot and started calling.

Within five minutes, we had our first response. Unfortunately, this particular tom and his nine hens would never come closer than 300 yards, but we had a blast watching them through our binoculars.

An hour or so later, we were calling again. No more than 10 minutes had passed, and a tom answered with a yelp. A minute later, he answered again. This turkey was getting closer!

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Today! We made a few soft clucks and purrs, and seconds later, the gobbler’s head popped up at 30 yards.

My heart was pounding. There was no doubt that he was trying to locate us. His headed bobbed up and down as he played peek-a-boo through the brush.

As hard as my son tried, he just couldn’t get a bead on the bobbing bright-red head.  Several minutes passed, and there was no sign of the big bird. Had this turkey given us the slip? We continued with a few more clucks and purrs.

Two minutes later, the gobbler returned in full strut. This time it didn’t take my son more than a couple of seconds, and the elusive bird’s big red head was in his sights.

As a dad, I couldn’t have been more excited for my son. His first wild turkey gobbler weighed 21 pounds and sported a 9 1/2 inch beard.

--Greg Neath

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