-By Rich Miller
This past Saturday I was reminded of a turkey hunt from last spring that was one of the most memorable of my life. Last year I attended an Outdoor Dream Foundation fundraiser and decided that it was something that I would love to be involved in. This organization is dedicated solely to making kids with life-threatening illnesses dreams come true. I immediately volunteered to take a kid turkey hunting if they had someone that wanted to go. A couple of weeks later I got a call and they said they had a 13-year-old girl that had never been hunting before and she was interested in going on a turkey hunt. This young lady had leukemia, and since her bone marrow transplant it had been in remission. I had the perfect place where I thought she would have a pretty good chance to get her first turkey.
The birds were cooperating, the evening before the hunt we had three or four different gobblers roosted. Since she had never been hunting before and didn’t know me from Adam she wanted her aunt and uncle to go with us because they have hunted before and they had been helping her practice with her shotgun. We had a perfect morning for turkey hunting, though there was a little chill in the air, there was not a breath of wind so you could hear a turkey gobble from a mile away. The cameraman, John Kennedy with Hunting the World Television, and I setup two ground blinds beside each other the evening before to help hide all the people that were going to be on the hunt. Once we got settled in the blinds it wasn’t long after daylight when we heard the first gobbler sound off from the same ridge we had heard them the evening before. The young hunter with us was getting excited but she didn’t realize what was in store for her.
About thirty minutes after daylight we had four big longbeards come into the Pretty Boy turkey decoy and commence to try to whip up on him. The good thing was they were inside twenty yards; the bad thing was they were running around like crazy and she couldn’t get settled on one particular bird to get a shot at it. When she was finally able to get settled on one she fired but she didn’t connect. By the time we got her another shell in the gun they were out of range and she couldn’t get another shot. She got a little upset because she had missed, but we got her calmed down and she was ready to try it again.
By the time lunch rolled around we had called in thirteen different longbeards and with a few more shots that were close calls and some bad luck, we still hadn’t connected. After we ate lunch and re-grouped we headed back to the blind. About two o’clock the weather turned and it started raining with the wind picking up and the temperature heading south. This young hunter was a trooper though and we stayed in the blind until six that evening without seeing another bird. Though the evening hunt lacked a lot to be desired the morning hunt was something special that none of us will ever forget.
I saw this young lady last Saturday, the first time since March. She was on a rabbit hunt put on by the Outdoor Dream Foundation with about eight other young hunters. She was still in great spirits and was as good a sport on the rabbit hunt as she was on the turkey hunt. Her leukemia is still in remission and she is getting more and more of her energy back every day. I would encourage everyone with the time or resources to volunteer with any organizations that help kids in this position. I only hope that this young lady got half as much out of our hunt as what I got from it.