Ryans First Turkey
By Mark Koehler
As I crawled over the fence to see what was on my
neighbors mind the ole gobbler sounded off to
the west. After a brief visit I again turned my attention
back to the noisy bird. It was the second week of
the 2001 Missouri spring turkey season and the birds
had been tough so far. All of my clients had taken
birds, but we had worked hard to get them.
I was on my evening run, trying to locate a gobbler
as they settled on the roost. As I got closer to the
bird I realized that he was headed toward my house.
Then I heard it, the faint who-who, who-are-you
and the gobbler responded as if on cue. My son Ryan
had heard the gobbler from the house and was doing
what he had heard me do so many times, he was hooting
to make the bird gobble.
was my 9 year old son, Ryans first year to hunt,
he had opted not to hunt during the special youth
hunt so that he could hunt when the gentlemen from
Louisiana was in camp. These guys have been coming
up to hunt for several years and are more like family
than clients. They had taken their first birds and
were staying to try for their second bird and hoped
to be around when Ryan connected.
When I got back to the house Ryan filled me in on
all of the events of the evening. He had heard the
gobbler across the road and hooted at him. When the
bird finally settled on the roost he was just south
of the house. Ryan was to start testing at school
the next morning and we had agreed that he would not
hunt until the test were over. We discussed the chance
of getting his gobbler and being late and tired at
school, and getting a chance at a gobbler won. I hated
to not let him try since he was the one who got the
bird fired up. I talked to my hunters, Red and Poole
and they were in favor of helping Ryan with his hunt.
We would position ourselves on three sides of the
bird and hope that someone got a look.
It was pitch black as we slipped into the woods.
Red had left to go across the road just in the event
that the gobbler went back to that side and Poole
went with us, he wanted to watch from a distance.
We first set up on a bend in the trail, that way we
could see in both directions. But when the gobbler
sounded off we had overshot him so we had to back
track and set up again. I put a Feather Flex hen decoy
behind us and settled in.
A few soft yelps from my Carlton mouth call got his
attention. He was still on the roost about 100 yds.
from us. When he flew down I started in on him. He
had landed on a shelf below the one that we were on,
this was the perfect set up. If he did show up he
would be close enough to shoot. Ryan was setting between
my legs, I could see over his head so that I knew
what he was seeing and that way I could tell him when
The ole gobbler responded to my every call, he just
wouldnt commit to sticking his head up over
the ledge enough to see the decoy and let us have
a shot. I had positioned myself so that I could scratch
the leaves if the need was to arise. I yelped softly
with my mouth call and scratched in the leaves, this
was more then he could resist. I spotted his blue
head coming up over the ledge. Then he strutted in
to full view, it was a tremendous show that he put
on gobbling and strutting. Ryan had his Rem. 870 Youth
20 ga. setting on his knee, so he didnt need
to move very much to get the bead lined up. I kept
waiting for the gobbler to straighten up before I
instructed him to shoot. Finally he did and I felt
Ryan tense up. After what seemed like an eternity
the 20 ga. blasted and a load of #6s took the
We were both silent as we walked to the gobbler.
Neither one of us could believe that Ryan had his
first bird. Poole came into view and Ryan was greeted
with a hearty hand shake and some back slapping. After
tagging and checking the bird in as is required in
Missouri, Ryan was still able to get to school just
as his bus arrived.
Ryans first bird weighed 22 pounds, 11.25
beard with 1.25 spurs. This was truly a most
(You can contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org