By HSP Member, William Sr.
I am a truly blessed man. I have a very understanding wife and two fantastic kids, all of us are healthy and we have what we need to survive, plus a little left over. Now, ask yourself, what more could anyone ask? How about a turkey? Not just any turkey, but one with just enough of a learning disability to allow my son to kill him.
Think about how many of these semi-intelligent birds you've seen in your hunting career. You know the type, the ones that bounce off of a woven wire fence twenty times before deciding to fly over it. Or the turkey that gobbles at any kind of scratchy-skreechy-sickly sounding noise that sounds more like a can falling down a rocky hillside than any hen you've ever heard. It just so happens, I thought I'd found that bird.
Last year, I convinced my son, William, that I would've done anything to have been able to hunt turkeys when I was 7. I told him, "When I grew up we didn't get to hunt turkeys until we had a full beard and a mustache." He's only 7, so I knew he couldn't check my sources for accuracy. Anyway, I'm competing with television, video games, and Pokemon...I've got to use all the tricks I've got to get him into the woods.
Before our hunt I had to cure him of his left dominant eye "thing", so I went to work on finding the most scientific method to cure this disease. After much labor and personal hardship I came to the conclusion that if he couldn't see out of his left eye, it couldn't be dominant. I also concluded that his left eye was actually handy, therefore; I couldn't get rid of it permanently. These happen to be the exact words I told my wife when she came outside to watch us practice, and saw the duct tape I put on his face. For the record, I've been told by some very intelligent people that the only two tools a person needs to repair or live through 95% of the things that go wrong in life is duct tape and WD40.
You'd better believe me when I tell you it's tough to change things that God has set forth, but if you've got duct tape, you've got a chance. Two rolls of duct tape later, I now have a right-eye dominant son. Ta-Da!!!!! I also had a son that thought he was going to shoot that turkey with his Red Rider BB gun.
I must confess, I don't tell my kids everything. Kids don't need to know everything. I want them to experience some things first-hand, without warning. Shotgun recoil happens to fall into this category. You'd think that anyone would know the difference between a shotgun and a BB gun, but I'm telling you, kids these days don't have a clue. When I was 7, I knew my BB gun wouldn't kill turkeys. I tried. I'm pretty sure I put over one million BB's through my gun in the first month, and when I ran out of BB's, I tried to shoot rocks. Talk about a kid with too much time on his hands, it would take me an hour to find one rock that had the dimensions of a BB, but it was worth it. Those were the days.
On the night before our hunt I got the "special BB gun" out of the gun safe. This was William's first introduction to his "special BB gun". I made sure he understood where the safety and the trigger were and even practiced on some imaginary turkeys. I weighed the risk/reward, recoil/dead turkey, equation and came to the conclusion that once he killed a bird he would forgive the whole "not warning him about the recoil" thing. We finished packing the decoys, calls and the blind. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you about the blind.
I am a sucker for hunting stuff. I have worked months in an archery shop to get a discount and pay for my hunting toys. My only problem is when my hours are figured up and compared to what I owe, I always end up writing a check for about ten or fifteen hundred dollars. If you work in an archery shop and don't own/shoot the best, then you're not doing it right. Understand?
When Double-Bull archery came out with their blind I had to have one. Then they came out with a bigger one, and I had to have that one, then a different color, you guessed it...I've got that one. Finally, I now own the largest, newest, lightest, absolute coolest blind out there...and only $550. Man, I'm glad I got the discount.
Opening morning of youth season came slow. I was really excited. I was going to show my boy what this turkey slaying thing was all about. He was going out a boy, and coming back a boy that killed a turkey. We were ready for anything.
We parked the truck and I told him we were going to walk into where the turkeys were roosted. He was really into it. Of course not enough to actually help me carry the $550 blind, "special BB gun", decoys or anything else...but he was into it. We walked in the darkness, slowly and loudly. Question after question I forced him to walk on till we got where I thought we'd be successful. This would have normally been a 10 minute walk, but since I was packing half the bow-shop, and he was actually waltzing more than walking, it took us 30 minutes and the sun was peeking over the horizon. The birds had already begun to gobble on the roost.
With every gobble I worked frantically to get the five-second blind set up. Five minutes later I belly crawled out of the blind and placed our decoys in very strategic locations. I placed one 15 yards out and the other uphill from us. I knew that the gobblers strutted on this ridge, so it was only a matter of time. I climbed back into the blind and made some final adjustments to the blind so that we would be perfectly set-up for the shot. This blind has mesh for windows that you can shoot through. It's really great for kids.
I told William to listen close and started to stroke my favorite box call. I was trying to show him how a master called, but he obviously wasn't ready for it. He kinda laughed and told me it was his turn. This was not in my plan book. I call, he shoots, we celebrate. That's the plan. Nowhere does it involve a 7-year old calling and shooting. That's just not fair. Well, he hit the call a lick or two and "Boom" the old gobbler sounds off. "MY TURN!" I said and snatched the call back.
Again, I stroked the call and our bird answered back. "He's coming in", I whispered to William. "WHERE", he said loudly. I tried to quiet him down with a "SHHHHHH!!!! The turkeys can hear you." He responded with the usual, "Where are their ears?" "How good can they hear?" "I can't see them." "William," I said, "you have to be quiet and be patient. The turkey is right over the hill." Without saying anything he nodded. This pep talk lasted about two minutes and then he wanted to call again. I told him, "You can't shoot with a call in your hand." This is where I got my first clue, he said, "I don't care, I want to call. I don't want to shoot."
Don't care? What do you mean, you have to shoot. That's the plan. all this was going through my mind.
Four more minutes went by then William dropped the big one on me, "Dad I'm bored, I want to go home." His statement was immediately followed by a loud gobble, and drumming. The gobbler was right outside the blind. Of course it was on the wrong side of the blind and we couldn't shoot him, but he was there. I told William that the bird was coming in and he told me, "You're wrong, the turkey is gone and I'm bored"...... Gobble-gobble-gobble... Gobble-gobble-gobble... "No" I whispered, "He is right there." You guessed it, William said loudly, "WHERE!!!!"
"SHHHHHH!!! He's right behind us. Let's get the gun up and get ready for him."
Then I saw him, red head, long beard, a mature gobbler. a trophy for any man, let alone a 7-year old man. He was six steps away, right outside the blind. I saw him but William didn't. For William to see the gobbler it would have to circle us and get in front of the big screen or grow about two feet taller in the next five seconds. I tried to boost William into a position to see him but no go, he was too short. Ten minutes later and forty more "I'm bored's" and the big bird was there, right where we needed him to be, in front of the big mesh window.
William was in front of me, and I was trying to help him steady the gun. The bird was literally twenty five feet away. I kept whispering to William, "Do you see him?" "Can you shoot him?" William never uttered a sound. He just shivered and shook from trying to hold up a Berretta over-and-under. I didn't give any thought to his only weighing 40 pounds. Even the lightest o/u is still over 1/8th of William's total body weight. That's like you or I trying to hold up a 50 pound shotgun, and William was doing it for what seemed like minutes.
"Can you shoot him?" I said with more deliberation. "Yes!!!" He said, "Yes". I told him to pull the trigger when he was ready and I could feel his hand tightening, and tightening, and tightening... I was thinking to myself, "Did I leave the safety on?" Then, BOOOOM!!!! Followed by and earth-shattering series of screams. I thought he'd shot himself or a bee stung him or, hell I didn't know what happened. The whole thing was really strange.
William was screaming, "I can't hear!!! I can't hear!!! My ears are bleeding!!!!" and I'm looking at this gobbler standing outside the blind, looking back at us. He's wasn't running or putting. He really did not seem to be worried, at least not worried for his own welfare. He did look a little concerned for the little deaf boy with the bleeding ears.
I was trying to get William calmed down while also pointing out that the turkey was still there. I told him, "Maybe you can get another shot." In retrospect I can assure you that wasn't gonna happen, as a matter of fact, he would still be screaming today if I hadn't noticed what happened to my stuff.
I looked at my blind and saw where he shot a hole through it, then I looked at the decoy and it had been shot too, in the head... I showed the hole to William and he froze, no crying, just froze. With tears in his eyes he asked me, "Do I have to pay for that?" I told him no and then showed him the turkey decoy he had shot. I told him, "Not only did you shoot it, but you shot it really good, in the head."
His screaming had turned into laughing and we just kept telling our story, over and over, to each other. We laughed every time we got to the part about the turkey wondering why the deaf boy with the bleeding ears was screaming. I guess you had to be there. I'm glad I was.
By the way, William shot his first deer this year, a forkhorn. One shot, with a .243 Winchester, right through the ribs. I'm glad I was there too.