By Tracey J. Watkins
Amber Watkins with her first turkey.
As the spring turkey season grew near, I wanted to make sure all my gear was ready for opening day with all the big birds I had been seeing. One evening as I was getting my vest organized my daughter Amber asked, "What are you doing, Daddy?"
I told her I was getting ready to go turkey hunting, and showed her my turkey calls, explained how to use them and talked about decoys and getting up early to go chase elusive gobblers.
Amber showed a lot of interest so I asked her if she would like to go with me. She said yes. I got my shotgun out, put a snap cap in it, and sitting on the couch held the gun up as if aiming at a bird. I had her stand beside me so she could look down the side of the barrel and get positioned to pull the trigger. It worked! We tried it again with the same results.
I thought if this works sitting on the couch, it would work sitting in the blind. With opening day getting closer, we practiced at night. Amber told me she was ready to go turkey hunting, and then opening morning arrived. I woke Amber at 4:30 a.m., and to my surprise she got up and, with a little help from her mom, she was ready and full of excitement.
"Come on, Dad, let's go!" Amber said, as we gathered our stuff and headed for the woods.
It only takes a few minutes to get where we are hunting so we make a game plan for the hunt - be quiet and be still. We arrive at the farm about 5:15, load our stuff on the 4-wheeler and head to our ground blind. We put our decoys out and get in our blind. As we wait for daylight we share our breakfast of pop tarts and chocolate milk.
After breakfast I begin to make some soft clucks and purrs, and we hear gobbles. Several of them. The turkeys are not far away.
I can see the excitement in Amber's face, hearing the birds for the first time. I continue to call and the gobblers came closer. I have to remind her at this point of our plan to be quiet and still as she asks question after question and peeks out every window in the blind.
At about 7:30, three hens cross in front of the blind at about 30 yards. They slowly feed past our decoys, stopping occasionally to look around. Amber can hardly contain herself at this point.
I explained they are hens and we don't shoot them. About 10 minutes pass, we can still see the hens to our left, when we hear him. He is about 20 yards to our right, near our decoys, and in full strut. Amber is amazed at the sight. I get her head set over her ears, get my gun up, and get her in position like we practiced. And we wait and wait for the right time. Now - pull the trigger!
"Did we get it Daddy, did we get it?" she asked. Yes, we got it!
What a morning this has been! I have tears in my eyes as I grab her, hug her and tell her how proud I am of her. Amber is my little princess and on that day there was no man any more proud than I was. As we got out of the blind to see the bird I realized this day wasn't really about taking the turkey, but the time we spent together.
However, the turkey was truly a bonus, and what a bonus! It had a 10 and 1/2 inch beard and weighed 23.4 pounds.
Amber is a three-year old with a lifetime Sportsman's license, so she has a lot of years to hunt. As I loaded the 4-wheeler, she had to call her mom to tell her she had killed her first turkey with her daddy. I listened to the excitement in her voice describing what just happened and I wondered will she remember this day?
Yeah, she will!