I’ve always loved exploring the outdoors, from catching grasshoppers and butterflies in my backyard, to hunting and fishing with my dad. This spring, I had my first chance to hunt turkeys with my dad during Missouri’s youth turkey season. I completed my hunter safety course and then with my Christmas and birthday money, purchased a 20 gauge shotgun, a book on turkey hunting, calls, camouflage and shotgun shells. The week before the season my dad and I scouted a good spot to set up in a nearby Wildlife Management Area, and a week later at 4 a.m. we hiked to that spot and set up for the hunt. We saw several turkeys the first day, but we spooked a few of them and the others had no interest in my calling.
The next morning we hiked to a new spot where a large tree had fallen, giving us a great hideaway. Things were quiet until about 6 a.m., when a turkey gobbled from a tree directly behind us! The turkey flew down out of the tree and away from us where we couldn’t see it, but then suddenly appeared in front of us. I could have taken a shot, but I knew it was too early to legally shoot. I was upset after the turkey walked away, but a short time later my dad motioned to me that three more male turkeys were headed right toward us! I took aim at one and missed, but the birds didn’t run away, they seemed confused by the noise. I took aim a second time and missed again! Amazingly, however, one of the turkeys still stayed in place, with his neck stretched out. I guess the third time was the charm, because my next shot was right on target. When we approached the bird we saw it was a jake, and when we brought it to the wildlife check-in station they weighed it on a scale at 18 pounds. When we got home my brother and sister each took a few of the bird’s feathers for themselves, and I kept its beard and tail fan. The best part, however, was when we got to cook the bird for supper that night!