OBN suggested writing about a memory from your childhood of being exposed to the outdoors or from an experience where I introduced a child to the outdoors. Seeing I have already written about my first deer camp, which is definitely the one outdoor experience responsible for fueling my passion for the outdoors, I decided to write about introducing others to the outdoors seeing my blog tag line is "Sharing the Passion"."It’s time to write about the outdoor kid in you or the kid(s) you have exposed to the Outdoors."
As I sit and think about all those people I have introduced to some of my outdoor passions and places I find it difficult to pick just one. I could get into one of the many times my wife was thrust into an new outdoor adventure, usually reluctantly, like the time I took her steelhead fishing for an 8 hour drift boat trip in a blizzard or the first time I handed her a warm pair of venison tenderloins just removed from a deer. I could write about one of my brothers first deer hunts or fishing trips as well. All of which have some funny and interesting moments in them but I have to be careful not to get the wife or family mad at me so maybe I'll save those for another time.
There is no doubt that I get the most enjoyment out of introducing kids to the outdoors especially my own kids, but any youngster will do and they have. I have had the pleasure to introduce a few of my kids friends to fishing, turkey and deer hunting and every single outing was special.
One hunting trip that really stands out is the time I took my son Brendan and his friend Michael and Josh out on a youth turkey hunt in the spring of 2005 when they were just 13 & 14 years old. Both Brendan and Michael had taken their first turkeys in the years before this trip so they were, in their minds, seasoned turkey hunters. We also had another of their friends along for the trip, Josh, who never hunted but was at the time experimenting with photography and videos and he wanted to video tape the hunt for me. What made this trip special was the events of that morning hunt which are documented below.
|Brendan, Josh and Michael - 2005 Turkey hunt|
The trip started out with my son Brendan and his friends Michael and Josh all sleeping over at my house. I'm not sure Sleeping over is the right way to explain this, maybe just staying over because they didn't sleep much and neither did I as I kept waking up to the sound of their excited little voices talking about previous hunts and their expectations for their hunt in the morning. Surely anyone that has every had to wake a youngster early for a hunting trip knows that it usually doesn't take more than one or two shakes before they jump up and say they are ready to go and this trio was no different. Tying to keep them quiet so they didn't wake Momma and my daughter was a challenge. It was as if they were continuing their excited conversations from the night before and I found myself overloaded before getting a full cup of mornign starter fluid. I don't remember being that amused at the time, but I can surely close my eyes today and see myself doing the same thing on many a morning when I was young.
We loaded up the gear under a dark sky with a light drizzle of rain coming down but no worries, we had the pop-up blind in the truck because without it there was no way I was going to keep 3 teenagers still and quiet in this weather or any weather for that matter. We were hutning a piece of private land that had a large pasture that went from the road uphill to a flat where the woods started and that flat just happens to be a common place for turkeys to cross as they work the woods around us. We've taken a few turkeys from this same pasture and I harvested my biggest bird every just inside the wood line the previous year hunting with Brendan and Michael so I knew the birds would be around but would they cooperate is the question.
So we had four of us crammed into my Ameristep Doghouse blind with only two folding chairs and both of them were taken up by Brendan and Micheal as they were the shooters. The game plan was to let Micheal have the first shot at a bird and for the life of me I can't remember why, but that was the plan. we put out two hen decoys just 15 yards from the blind and waited for the birds to start talking. It wasn't long until we heard the first sounds of birds still on their roost and in all that turkey talk was a couple of gobblers that just gave away their position. It sure sounded as if they were roosted right where they should be and I knew that if they did what I had seen them do in the weeks prior I knew they would come off the adjoining property and head up to the pasture.
We were still dealing with some drizzling rain and the birds were not as vocal once on the ground but I was able to get just enough gobbles to keep tabs on their positions and I knew the birds were working just inside the wood line across from our setup and heading to the pasture. It wasn't long before we saw the first bird step out of the woods and into the pasture. The grass was a little high but not bad, but we did have a hump in between us and the birds so we would lose them in the pasture on occasion but they did put on a show for the boys. using the binos we could see we had 5 jakes with a couple of hens and one larger bird that looked bigger but still not a mature tom, ten birds in all. I was working my box call and slate and did my best, which believe me isn't that good, to call them birds across but all we could do was watch as they continued to cross the upper portion of the pasture only to enter the woods. I watched those boys fill with excitement and anticipation at every gobble, cluck and movement of the birds, only to see all that excitement come crashing down as they hit the woods. But as I was explaining to them that it is very difficult to call Toms away from hens, I caught a little movement back over to where the birds came of out the woods and sure enough it was a turkey and it looked like a Tom.
As I pointed this bird out to the boys, their excitement grew and I had to keep reminding them to whisper and move very slowly as turkeys have incredible eye sight and hearing. Now as I was sitting there watching this bird I was hoping for one of those birds that come running right up to the decoy in a flash, but we had the opposite. I spent 30 minutes working this bird just get him to come about 75 yards across the pasture. Now put yourself into a 14 year old body and think about that 30 minute wait and you can appreciate what I had to deal with. Well this gobbler took his sweat time, but man did he put on a display for us and one I will never forget. We had about 20 minutes of video of this bird before he got to within about 15 yards of the decoy and hung up. Now when he was hung up he wasn't nervous instead he put on a display that was designed to pull those two hen decoys staked out in front of us right to him and they just kept ignoring him so we had a stand off. Needless to say I was getting impatient and extremely nervous so I told Mike to get a steady bead on him and when he comes out of his display to pick out that magical spot on his neck and let one rip. Well Mike lined him up and when he came out of his "come here girls dance" I heard the safety click off and my Remington 870 12guage bark and with that the turkey jumped up in the air, spun around and was headed out of dodge. I had Mike rack another shell and give him another shot but he just kept running away. I was depressed for just a minute until the boys started talking and I noticed their voices filled with excitement and not depression as they started laughing and teasing each other and recounting what had just happened. I got them all back on track and settled down and reminded them that there were more turkeys around so this isn't over, but in the back of my mind I thought we were done.
Well we got our laughs and ribbing out of the way while having a snack and letting things calm down and I would throw in a little calling as well. About 30 minutes after Mike's miss, Brendan says he sees two birds coming into the pasture just to our right and he is pumped because it is now his turn to shoot. Of course we have the side windows all zipped up so I unzip the side window just a little to get a look and sure enough hear come two jakes working straight into the decoys. Only Brendan and I can see them and of course Josh and Mike want to see them so Josh pushes up against me with and starts video taping out the side window while I am trying to get my son ready but Brendan was as way ahead of me and ready to roll. I made a few purrs and those two jakes came walking right into the decoys and as they got to within feet of the decoys they stretched out their necks to check the fake hen just standing there and then turned around and it looked like they were headed out. Brendan had a bead on them the whole time and was waiting for them to separate a little bit so he didn't shoot both of them. They separated just enough and Brendan let that Remington 20guage rip and down went his bird and out came a huge whoop of excitement and that is when Brendan took over and directed Micheal to shoot the other jake that had run away and stopped and was just standing there just close enough. I couldn't see the jake standing there so it was my Son Brendan calling the shots and Mike was listening and this time when the Remington went off Mike connected and the second jake dropped. We went from a miss to a double on youth day. It was just plain amazing. What made it extra special is Josh had everything on video. Yup that is right a 14 year old video taped the entire trip and did an incredible job to boot. So Josh got to see something that many turkey hunters never see or experience during the hunt but I think his favorite part was the up close inspection of the turkeys themselves.
It is a day I will never forget and I'm not sure any trip to come will ever top that day. I was blessed to share a turkey blind with my son and his two teenage friends and I got experience everything through their eyes and it was incredible. We experienced so many emotions that day that I can't possibly account for all of them and I was proud and impressed at the way the boys handled everything. From anticipation, excitement, failure and back to raw excitement. We had so many good things happen on that hunt but it was extra special listening to Josh recap the days events as he was showing off the video he took to everyone that stopped over that day.
What the boys and I experienced that day, many people can't understand and will never experience anything like it and a piece of me feels sorry for them. It was an experience of a lifetime for all of us and it is a bond we will always share.......Forever.