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Gobblers and Granddaddy's gun

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Spring has been a long time coming at the hunting shack in Northern MN.  I tapped maple trees over a month ago and since then Winter has come and gone numerous times.  When my son and I started heading north last Friday night I was pleased to see almost all the snow was gone from the woods.  Only formerly big patches protected by shade remained.  This wasn't just any weekend.  It was my 10 year old boys maiden voyage as the trigger man on a Spring turkey hunt.  Minnesota does it right.  Adults have to apply to a lottery to hunt for the first 2 weeks of the season, but kids can buy over the counter during that time and by 'buy' I mean kids under 13 are given a license for the low low price of zero dollars.  You can't beat that!

 

I posted a while back about my son taking possession of his Great Granddaddy's 20 gauge Ithica.  He's been shooting a lot of hand thrown trap and has his sights set on a grouse, woodcock or pheasant this coming Fall, but he wasn't quite quick enough on the trigger last year although he had some chances.  I am not much of a Turkey hunter.  I have a blind and decoys and a few calls and get out on occasion, but it's never really grabbed me like some other forms of hunting.  The turkey population in Northern Minnesota has been exploding though.  10 years ago seeing a turkey near my hunting shack was unheard of, now they seem to be everywhere.  My plan was to hunt near my shack Saturday morning as I've heard some gobbling over the last couple of weeks.  I wanted my son to get an opportunity to shoot a few shots from a seated position with his shotgun before we hit the woods the next morning, so I turned off on a minimum maintenance road near a little piece of tax forfeit land that I like to grouse hunt.  The little pull in is on the only slight rise anywhere around.  You can see quite a ways down dirt road.  We readied the stool and I put an empty Pepsi bottle on a twig at 20 yards and he let it rip.  From the holes on the bottle my boy was convinced we'd be having turkey dinner if we could get one close enough.  Just as we were packing up to leave I happened to glance down the road there was a big black blob about 3/4 of a mile distant that I hadn't seen before.  I got out the binoculars and wouldn't you know it was a big tom turkey strutting his stuff.  He was well off the public land but we drove down to have a look at him.  He bolted for the field before we got too close, but as he did I noticed the gate was open and a truck was in the drive.  I am pretty much exclusively a public land hunter in Northern MN, but this opportunity was too good to pass up.....who can say no to a 10 year old asking permission?  My boy might have a career in sales.  He was courteous, polite, thankful and remembered to shake hands.  He sealed the deal for us and we had permission for the next morning to set up on the field edge we had just pushed the turkey into.
 

After getting the woodstove going in the shack we headed to bed early after setting an alarm that I didn't end up needing.   I was too excited for the possibilities of the morning and I popped up wide awake by 4:00 am.  By the time I woke the boy up I had a big stack of pancakes, home cured bacon, and fresh maple syrup on the table.  He isn't normally a big eater, but I convinced him he needed to fuel up to make a long sit in the cold of the morning.  It was still dark when we set up the blind and the decoys.  The first time we hit the call we were greeted by a distant gobble.  It didn't take long before we had our friend on the way.  Every time we called, he responded each time getting louder  and louder.  I thought he was going to stroll right into our laps, but he hung up at about 60 yards just at a fence line. We could see him plain as day, but he just wouldn't close the gap.  After a few hours of trying to wait him out we decided to sneak out to warm up and come back for an evening try.

I wasn't quite sure if it was our decoys or our calling that spooked the bird that morning, so I decided to brush in our blind right on the edge of the logging road we had seen the bird on that morning and sit quietly hoping he'd come back to the field that same way.  We probably weren't in the blind for a half hour before I saw that bird making his way towards us at a pretty decent clip.  The boy readied the gun and dropped him like a lighting bolt with the old Ithica at about 8 yards as he tried coming by.  I can't remember the last time I got that excited.  What a memory for us both.  After a stop back to thank the land owner and show off the bird we got it gutted and plucked and called all his uncles and cousins and buddies to do a little bragging!  What a weekend!

 

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hayslope

Outstanding!!

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mccuha

Nice bird. What thrill for him and yourself. Keep him involved in the sport. We need all the young people we can get to keep the sport thriving 

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salmontogue

Wonderful story.  There are great moments in our lives and this is one of the best.  I particularly enjoyed your son asking for permission to hunt.  Good manners never go out of style and he is obviously learning to be a "backwoods gentleman".

 

Perk

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mister grouse

great report , and outstanding photos with the tracks!

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DTB

Great post. Please post more of that young man's "firsts".

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Millriver

Excellent, a day you both will never forget! Congratulations!

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