-By Brandon Wikman
Introducing people into the hunting and outdoors lifestyle has always been my passion. It’s a unique and thrilling opportunity to educate, be a role model, and change someone’s life in a positive matter. This past week proved to be a life-changing experience for one of my friends during her very first turkey hunt.
Step 1: Scout
A few days before Karlee’s turkey season opened, she and I trekked through the wooded grounds we would be hunting in search of turkey signs. I am a firm believer in doing your homework early to reap the rewards early (a big gobbler).
As we edged toward the field, she spotted a few feathers buried beneath the grassy weeds. It was obvious to see that this was surely a turkey roosting area after looking up into the tall white pines. I explained to her that the branches of white pines are like beds to turkey. They spend half of their life sinking their claws into the bark and sleeping through the night. We continued on our mini-journey through the woods in pursuit of more hardcore evidence of my favorite feathered-friends.
Step 2: The Pre-hunt
Karlee didn’t hesitate to let me know her true feelings of waking up at an ungodly 3:30 am. I guess I couldn’t blame her. Regardless, she managed to gladly surprise me when I saw her sleepily walk into the living room. Half-zombie and half-woman, she slowly began waking once the coffee and breakfast was served. I could tell that she was pretty excited about the morning hunt.
As every guy would know and every woman could agree, women seem to typically take a lot longer getting ready than men. Not this time. We were actually out the door and on the road with time to spare. It’s not too often I make good time when I’m just by myself. I was anticipating that the good omen would continue.
Step 3: The hunt
Karlee and I slinked into the forest’s darkness silently like a burglar slipping into a backdoor. We tiptoed through the woods, gun, camera, and gear in hand. I whispered to Karlee that any obtrusive noise would wake the birds and send them darting through the early morning air.
Our morning setup was only a hundred yards from where Karlee found the turkey feathers. A jumble of white pines and a small patch of cedars is the only thing that held back Karlee’s first turkey. As morning light danced upon the horizon, the woods came alive. Morning songbirds sung a sweet melody as the geese chimed in every now and then. The squirrels began rummaging through the forest floor and deer sluggishly walked back to their beds after a long night of gorging. I knew it would only be minutes until I’d watch Karlee’s eyes pop from the shriek of a gobble.
The turkey began claiming dominance with thunderous gobbles soon after the crack of dawn. I nudged Karlee to pick up a call and softly begin chiming love toward their direction. She was able to ignite a few gobbles from her box call. We waited motionless for another five minutes until I spotted a gobbler fluttering through the air heading to Karlee’s yelp. The gobbler pompously walked into range while strutting the entire time. This scenario was absolutely perfect, one that doesn’t come too often when hunting these random critters.
Karlee steadied her shotgun as the bird high-stepped his way in looking for the imaginary lovesick hen. When the tom crossed the 20-yard mark I told Karlee to fill his face with bb’s. She did just that! An eruption of bb’s burnt through the air splattering into the gobbler’s face. We both couldn’t help laughing. She looked completely speechless. She was glowing with pride and shaking with turkey-fever. I soaked every moment of it up. I knew in my heart that this was an experience that she’d never forget for the rest of her life.
We recovered the bird and took some great pictures of her trophy. Little did she know, those pictures photographed that day would be a conversational piece in her scrapbook forever. Not only did Karlee kill her first animal, but she also lived in the shoes of an outdoors person, the eyes of a hunter, and mind of a conservationist. It was by far one of the most memorable hunts I’ve ever been a part of. Hunting to me is simple, it’s about making lasting memories with people you enjoy spending time with.