Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Daughter's First Turkey Hunt by Cristy Crawford

One of the most rewarding adventures for an outdoor woman like me is being able to enjoy the wonders of nature with family and friends. As the weather turned warmer and the woods started to green up with new life in 2010 it was finally time to introduce my two year old daughter to the beautiful spring sounds of a distant gobbler.

My daughter has always made constant trips to the woods with my husband and me to check the occasional trail camera and explore new hunting territory. Her first television viewing was filled with outdoor hunting shows. So the up and coming season was nothing new for her. Teaching and answering questions about different wildlife was just a common game we both loved to play. These trips were quickly becoming different.
After a few blown attempts at locating the old tom turkey. I kept answering the repeated question of “momma why do you keep making that loud crow sound.” Finally in the distance one finally sounded off.
Every turkey hunter understands the excitement of the first sounds of the season. Hairs trickle up on the back of your neck as an instant burst of adrenalin rushes through your body.

This one was different. This one was double the excitement for the entire family. Watching my daughters face light up along with dad’s expressions of excitement while watching his daughters face was priceless. She immediately toughs on my jeans looks and the two of us with a half way excited and half way concerned expression saying “what was that.”

Dad fires back with the same excitement as before and say “ITS A TURKEY!” By this time my daughter is jumping up and down in the leaves yelling “A TURKEY” “WOW.”
My wheels were turning faster than ever before as we slowly paced our way back to the truck while my daughter enjoyed the traditional piggy back ride out of the woods. I remembered the tent she had grown so found of playing in. Many hours had been spent playing in the purple and pink tent Santa had brought for Christmas. I had put it all together.

My next strategic line of questions went something like this. Remember I’m talking to a two year old. “That was really fun, right?” “Do you think you would like to play in momma’s camouflage tent in the woods?” After those questions were answered in my favor the next few weeks were filled with fun in the yard, new rules for momma’s tent, and the occasional weird looks as people drove by our house.
The most important of all rules was the hardest and most obvious to all hunters, you have to be quite. So after weeks of fun turkey hunting training it was time to go “play” in the woods in our camouflage tent.
My husband had been out all morning chasing turkeys and had not returned home from his adventures. It was mid-day and the sun was up and shining bright. It was time for a girl’s adventure in the woods.
Equipped with my bow, turkey calls, tent, stool, decoy, bug repellant, small cooler filled with snacks and water, baby doll, teddy bear, some more random quiet toys and a quilt to lay on the and ground we were finally set. In our world this was hunting at its best. I realized that day why there is always so many random pockets in good quality hunting apparel. Not expecting anything more than the experience we were finally all set up.

As we drove in I noticed a few turkeys strutting their stuff in a distant cow pasture about 300 yards from where we set up. After about thirty minutes of nothing but quiet whispers in the tent . I began thinking this might actually work out. This pop up tent was the perfect set up. All but two windows were open. My daughter was just tall enough only her head would be exposed from the windows. I had a patch of really tall grass about 30 yards from where the birds would hopefully come from. The quilt I brought was eliminating all the commotion as she shuffled around my stool playing with her toys. Even if I didn't’t call up a bird this was good stuff.

Cristy and her daughter
As my girl sat their making quick work of a sucker I let out a few clucks and purrs out of my trusty glass call. Right away a gobble sounded off in the distance. Excitement filled the blind as I had to remind her if she wanted to see a turkey she had to whisper quietly.
I continued to call as the gobbles continued to get closer. A young jake was quickly approaching. This was soon to be my daughters first close encounter with a wild turkey. As I picked up my bow I explained to her after he gets past the tall grass I’m going to shoot. She quietly whispers “ok momma.” I knew it was fixing to be game on.
I’ve passed up on many young birds in the past at much closer distances, but this bird was different. As the jake worked his way to the tall clump of grass my daughter noticed my intense stare. She then saw the bird and somehow got her arms and head completely out of the one fully open window and yelled out “Look momma a turkey!” As the bird ran out of sight I couldn't help but bust out laughing and shared the excitement with my daughter.
This will forever be one of my most favorite blown attempts at bagging a turkey. The excitement that rushed through the blind from my daughter made caring all that extra gear worth every grueling step. With the 2011 season only a month away and as my house is filled with turkey calling practice I can’t help but have that same full faced smile when my daughter ask “momma can I go turkey hunting with you?”