As the time clock on the 2009 Spring Gobbler Season was ready to strike 12, God blessed me yet again with a hunt to remember. After missing two different Jakes the week before season went out, and stalking several groups of turkeys with no luck my hopes of getting a second bird were slowly fading away. That was until one unlucky bird decided to scratch its back a little to close to the barn.
The last week of the season was one of those weeks were no matter how hard you try the animal always beats you. After missing two different Jakes four times, I was also beginning question my aim. After checking my sights and talking myself through every hunt, I figured out what I was doing wrong. By second-guessing all of my setups, and going against all the knowledge, I have of these majestic birds I had been placing myself in situations that would end up in failure.
Therefore, after kicking myself a few times, and with only two days left I figured I was out of time. That was until Friday afternoon rolled around. As my bus rolled by the barn two turkeys came into view and instantly my mind went into hunter mode. Running off the bus to my grandmother’s house and jerking the keys away from my mom, I immediately rushed home, grabbed my camo and my gear, and grabbing a few extra shells, I rushed right back to my grandmother’s house. After parking the car, grabbing and loading my gun, I headed toward the barn only to be surprised halfway with the sight of the two turkeys already at the barn. So what do I do, I drop all my gear including calls, face mask, and gloves, skillfully climb over the electric fence, and start sprinting to the barn.
I made it to the backside of the barn and then realize I had just left everything but my gun and shells in the yard. Therefore, I had to make due without this time and just pulled my shirt up over my nose to act like some kind of a facemask. Then I leaned out to address the situation of the hunt. The turkeys were only about 40 yards away; the only down fall was they were surrounded by four big Black Angus bulls, so I would haft to wait.
As I waited, the hunts of the past week began to replay in my head like a bad dream that just will not go away. Then sure enough, I begin to second-guess myself again, but I remember the previous kicking of myself for moving so I decided to stay put. I peeked around the barn again, this time they were at 20 yards and coming fast. I could tell one was a hen and the other had a small beard. I prepared myself for a shot as I followed the bearded bird with my fiber optic sights.
Just before the birds came under the five strands of barbwire fence, the bearded bird went into strut and chased the hen under the bottom strand. Then it came out of strut and crossed into my shooting lane. I followed the bearded bird as it crossed behind the hen and waited for it to clear the hen, as I did not want to take an illegal bird. As it cleared and stopped, I slowly squeezed the trigger on my trusty Mossberg 835 and let my Federal Express, three and half-inch, number five shot, with flight-control-wadding do its job. With the shot, being so close my wadding actually hit the turkey in the head as it dropped to the ground.
I could not believe it I had just taken a bird when only a day earlier I had felt as if I had struck out. As I approached the bird, something was different the bird was kind of small and more of a dull brown color. My heart sank I thought I just killed that hen poor ole hen. No, I could not have, I made sure I followed the bird with the beard. I knelt down and rolled the hen over to my surprise a six and half-inch beard appeared. That is when it hit me it was bearded hen; I just killed my very first bearded hen. Then I asked myself “Why was it strutting.” I guess with the sun being directly in my eyes I thought this bearded hen was a Jake. The glare of the sun made the head look red and when it went into strut, it just confirmed my thoughts of it being a Jake.
I picked up my hard-earned bearded hen and headed to my grandmothers house to show it off. I called my Dad only to find out he had put down a big gobbler at another place we turkey hunt. It was so cool we had just had another father-son double just miles apart. When Dad arrived, we exchanged some hugs and congratulations, and took some pictures. The 2009 Spring Gobbler Season for me was another year to add to the memory books.