For me, Croton Creek Ranch is one of those super special places – a place with wonderful people and breathtaking scenery – a place abounding with wildlife. This morning, I got to take a good friend into the untamed red hills of this slice of western Oklahoma. My mission: Get my buddy, Badlands’ Marketing Director Blake VanTussenbrook, on a longbeard. Blake and I got our butts kicked yesterday, and today, we were looking for a little redemption.
Not only would this be Blake’s first turkey with a stick-and-string, but his first archery kill ever. No pressure on me, right? I’d love to tell you I was cool, calm and collected, but that would be a severe fabrication of the truth. I’m not a guide, I’m a bowhunter. And though I was by no means guiding Blake, I felt a certain responsibility to put a bird in his lap. This was a Grand View Outdoors hunt after all. I failed miserably yesterday.
The morning broke crisp and clear and a number of gobblers boomed in the distance. Joining Blake and I in the blind was my 10-year-old son Hunter, who skipped out of school and made the five-hour trip with my wife. Shortly after flydown, I was able to get a few hens talking, and it wasn’t long before a group of 18 ladies popped over the hill and made their way in our direction. I was a tad nervous that my Avian-X Jake over Laydown hen combo would disturb the girls a tad, but they merely purred and clucked as they made their way through the spread. It was gorgeous, and the “Oh, dad, that’s so awesome,” comment from my son made the morning.
With live hens moving down the hill calling the entire way, I felt good about our chances, and it wasn’t long before a pair of toms and two jakes topped the hill. There was no need to call. The group broke into a run. The toms were first on the scene, and they wasted no time in displaying their dominance. Both birds puffed up and the more dominant of the two gave my jake a karate kick to the face. It was awesome! Blake pulled his Prime Rize back and made a perfect shot. The bird collapsed within sight. The second tom, not knowing what was happening (a big reason I love to bowhunt birds), simply began to walk off. I cut hard on my diaphragm. He gobbled, turned and returned to take out his aggression on the jake. Blake drew again, only this time his arrow skidded just under the bird’s chest. We didn’t care. Blake had killed his first animal with a bow, and I was honored to share the experience with both he and my son.
Upon returning to camp, we found out that Bowhunting World Publisher Jared Pfeifer had punched his second tag. Jared was hunting with Croton Creek’s Scott Sanderford, and the duo called in a nice tom – a tom that Jared was more than happy to hang his second tag on. More to come from Oklahoma!