by Jarrod Smith
It’s April 9, 2011. We wake around 4:30 in the morning at Pat’s house, filled with the anticipation of getting our first turkeys.
We drive to some backwoods property in Loudon County, Virginia. Along the drive I’m thinking, “Okay, I’ve got everything: gun, shotgun shells” and so on. We park, grab all our gear and head into the woods.
Hoot owls start calling as we set up the blind and settle into our chairs. Corbin asks me with a little fright in his voice “what’s that, Dad”? Then I tell him, “monsters,” but he knows I’m joking.
We get out the coffee and Pat’s famous hot chocolate (the best I’ve ever had. I’ve got the recipe too).
Just at daybreak, Pat asks, “Are you ready?” Corbin nods with contained excitement and I’m thinking “sure, like the turkey's gonna come just because we are ready.”
He hits the slate call and throughout the woods a loud “gobble, gobble, gobble” answers him. I slowly turn my head to Corbin and whisper “this is it, today’s gonna be a good day.” Then slowly turning to look at Pat with a grin I say, “I can’t believe it—they gobbled on the first call.” I think to myself, “Man Pat really knows how to call.”
For the next half hour that gobbler gobbles at everything from the geese, ducks and crane flying over. Then he comes off the roost and just shuts up.
We sit there for the next couple of hours with Pat hitting the slate call then the box call. Nothing. Not a sound. Starting to get discouraged, we all get out of the blind and relieve ourselves, stretch our legs and settle back down with another cup of Pat’s hot chocolate. Pat has another cup of coffee and we all eat some Kit Kats and Snickers bars.
Ready for round two. The day passes by in silence, we watch a few squirrels scurry around, and ducks and geese fly by, but still no turkey.
Pat makes a few more calls. Still, nothing. I keep telling myself, “well maybe it’s not gonna happen…that’s ok…we got to hear one gobble this morning and that was exciting.” That’s why they call this hunting.
Time passes and then all of a sudden, Corbin starts snickering. I give him the mean look and whisper, “stop! Pat’s not gonna want you to come next time.” He points at Pat with more snickering, holding back a laugh, tears in his eyes.
I glance over my shoulder at Pat and I can’t believe it. He’s asleep. His head all laid back and, I mean, he’s out! Then he starts snoring. I start snickering too, trying my hardest to hold back. I then nudge Pat’s leg. His eyes open and while slowly raising his head says, “what, what are you doing?” I tell him, “You were sleeping and snoring.” He says “I know. That’s my secret weapon.” We all laughed.
A little more time goes on and about 11:30 Pat asks, “Are you about ready to go”? I shrugged and got up, but Corbin is disappointed. “I want to get a turkey,” he says, but I assure him we’d go again. We wait a few more minutes, get out of the blind, and start packing up. We unload our guns, and pack the blind away.
I look up and Pat is putting his chair back in his bag when Corbin, about 30 yards away, looks at us and says with a loud whisper “I heard one!” Pat and I just look at each other, and then I hear it too.
“Did you hear that?” But no, he didn’t. Pat finishes putting his chair in the bag then gets his slate call out. He hits it one time and all we hear is “gobble, gobble, gobble.”
There’s more than one. Pat drops his chair and while grabbing his jacket says, “we’ve got about six minutes to get ready.”
I drop what I’m doing and Pat whispers to Corbin, “Come here.” Pat tells Corbin to jump in this makeshift blind that he made a few years back by a big oak tree.
Corbin grabs his gun as I help him put two shells in it, and he jumps over into the blind and hunkers down. I grab my gun, put two shells in also, and hunker down right behind Corbin. Pat throws Corbin a face net. I can’t remember where I put mine.
Pat runs to a tree behind us and sits on the ground and leans up next to another oak. Then he whispers, “I wonder if I should try and put out a decoy” and I whispered back, “ya.”
Pat jumps up grabs a decoy from his vest, shoves it in the ground about 20 yards in front of us, and runs back to his spot. I look back and Pat has covered himself with his jacket. He hits the slate call. “Gobble, gobble, gobble” is all we hear.
Probably 10 or 12 minutes go by as we scan the woods searching. Then all of a sudden Corbin whispers, "There they are!” There were three of them jokers, just a struttin’. You should have seen the look on Corbin's face as he's hunched down behind Pat’s makeshift blind hoping not to get spotted. He puts the bead down towards them Jakes.
They stop and look and I thought, Dag gone it! They’ve busted me because I don’t have my mask on. So I slowly hunker down lower behind Corbin’s head hoping not to get caught. I tell him to take the safety off and wait till they pass that oak tree.
With all the excitement going, I also forgot to get my gun ready and now I'm worried I might get busted a second time. I said to myself "maybe I can ease it up slowly right before Corbin shoots."
Corbin keeps hitting this small cedar branch with the barrel of his gun so I had to whisper to tell him “Stop moving”.
He steadies his gun just about the time I ease mine up. I then whisper "shoot!" And Corbin says, "Which one?" I said “pick one!”
By the time I ease my gun back up, POW! Corbin shoots. Then I shoot too, and the birds are down.
Corbin jumps up and yells "I got ‘em, I got ‘em!" I jump up and say “I know, we did.” Grinning from ear to ear, we see Pat run past us to make sure the birds didn’t run off.
We go check out our prizes.
I looked at Pat with a tear in my eye, shake his hand, give him a manly hug, and say, “Pat, thanks, you just don’t know, WOW, Oh my God what a day, I can’t believe it!”
I‘m thinking, "man, how awesome is it that Corbin and I got our first turkeys on the same day?" Pat says, “Well, I called three in just in case you missed one.” We all laugh.
Corbin also manages to find a stinkin’ 6-point deer skull. Thank goodness for trash bags because we had to bring that home, too. We pick up all the gear and birds and stinkin’ deer skull and head for the truck.
I can still picture how proud Corbin was carrying that big old bird over his shoulder. Thank goodness for Pat again—he remembered a camera.
We took pictures of us posing with our trophy birds and that’s how our perfect hunt went.
There are not too many days that are that perfect in life and not too many hunters who can say they got their first turkey the same day as their son.
That’s a perfect hunt!
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