Hunts like these go by too fast. They always do. One minute everyone is sipping piping hot Java on the eve of the first mornings hunt, and the next luggage is being loaded into vehicles and hugs and handshakes are being exchanged. It’s hard for me. I’m the sentimental type and few things bring friends closer than time shared in the field. This hunt will, like so many others, be forever etched in my memory.
Joining me in the blind on the last morning was my buddy Todd Snader of Bowtech Archery (www.bowtecharchery.com), and though we couldn’t quite close the deal, we had a blast telling stories about our kids and their sports teams. Arcus Hunting’s Director of Sales, Sam Coalson, however, notched his first tag with a well-placed Ramcat (www.ramcatbroadheads.com) powered by his Obsession (www.obsessionbows.com) bow. Not to be outdone, Chevalier Advertising’s (www.chevalier-adv.com) Aaron Lisech notched his second tag, and Clean-Shot’s (www.clean-shot.com) Larry Bay had a close encounter with a Sooner State longbeard. Larry did anchor a jake earlier in the week.
With many hunters tagged out, my son Hunter was up to bat. This was to be Hunter’s first time in the field pulling the trigger. Yes, I know this is a bowhunting blog, but I have no trouble sharing the events of my son’s first-ever wild game harvest.
Scott and I took Hunter to a number of places, and we had a number of close calls, but things just weren’t coming together. With torrential rain forecasted for the remaining two days of our hunt, both Scott and I were starting to feel the pressure. With only a few hours of daylight remaining, we made the decision to sacrifice hunting time and make the 30-minute drive to a spot that had been hot all week. I’m glad we did.
The birds were feeding in a low spot and Hunter and I were able to slip around behind them and set up. The plan: Hope the birds would walk by us on their way back to the roost. I built a quick make-shift blind and got Hunter situated. Minutes later I saw red heads bobbing through the sage – jakes – and they were coming our way. Hunter couldn’t see the birds, as I had him facing in a different direction, but he could hear them. I heard his breathing start to intensify, and the barrel of his 20-guage shotgun began to shake. I patted his leg, told him to control his breathing and relax. I had to tell myself the same thing.
At the last minute, just before the birds were about to pop into Hunter’s sight window, they turned and started to walk into some trees. We’d already had so many close calls, and I wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip away. We made a good move and Hunter was able to get turned just as the last jake was disappearing into the brush. Hunter put the bead on the bird’s neck and squeezed the trigger. The jake collapsed. I’ve never had a better hunt, or been so excited. Hunter was jumping up and down, and last night when he went to bed, he was still clutching that spent shotshell. We hugged, high-fived and said a little prayer to the man upstairs. Moments later we could see Scott running through the brush. The three of us took time to soak it all in. That night at the lodge, Hunter was the center of attention, and I doubt very seriously he will ever forget his first turkey hunt.
In all, 11 birds hit the dirt in Oklahoma this week, and every hunter in camp had an opportunity. As I’ve said before, Croton Creek (www.crotoncreekadventrues.com) is a special place, and I will be back again very soon.