My First Turkey - April 19th 2024

-Kyran Hunt, 13


My dad, my grandpa, and I started our hunt by waking up at 3:00am. Our tag was in 4A/4B, and we planned on being in the field at around 4:00 am, so we had to leave early since the youth camp we were a part of was in unit 23. The air was clear; the wind was still. The weather was perfect.

We started out by driving and every couple hundred yards, we would stop, turn off the car, then get out and do a locator call; we would first do a gobble call, then an owl call, and if we didn’t hear anything, we would drive on to the next spot. I was doing the owl calls and my Grandpa was doing the gobble call.

After the third time stopping and doing this, we got out and we did an owl call. I could hear my owl call carrying through the trees and echoing in the forest. Just at the edge of our hearing, I heard a quiet gobble. So we parked the car and walked down the road a little bit while we were calling and listening for gobbles. As we were calling, it was gobbling. Then, suddenly, the turkey stopped firing off. So my grandpa got a coyote call and howled. We heard nothing. He did another howl and finally we heard two different turkeys, but one was a lot closer to us. When I heard that gobble, it was amazing and it got my blood pumping. An actual pack of coyotes started howling off of our call, and every turkey nearby started gobbling. I swear I could hear fear in their gobbles.IMG 6743

The turkey that was closest to us started gobbling again at every different locator call. At about this time my stomach dropped as I suddenly realized I didn’t have my earmuffs. I told my grandpa and he didn’t have any extra. Luckily, I had some toilet paper so I made makeshift earplugs by rolling it up and shoving it in my ears. We set up about 150-200 yards away from what we hoped was the turkey’s roost tree, then we set up decoys and started calling again. My grandpa was facing one way, and he put me on the corner of the tree. My dad was facing behind my grandpa and I. My grandpa saw the turkey first. It flew down and landed and I saw it out of the corner of my eye and I had no doubt it was a gobbler even though its head colors weren’t bright. It hit the ground running and stopped at a clump of trees which gave me the chance to turn to face it. By this time my heart was pounding out of my chest, my breath was coming fast, and I was shaking. I had a shooting stick, but I had to use my knee because the shooting stick fell off when I turned to face the turkey. In this position, the shotgun was tilted about 45 degrees.The turkey was all fired up and started gobbling a lot because we had a jake decoy and a hen decoy. He stepped out from behind the trees, stopped, and looked right at us. At this point it was about 45 yards away. Like I said, I was shaking a lot, but as soon as my grandpa whispered, “Shoot it,” everything in me calmed and slowed down and I lifted the gun. I took my shot at the turkey, hit its neck, and its head went back and it flipped onto its back. It flapped its wings like crazy, then it started rolling down the hill and died pretty quick. I started shaking again and I almost peed my pants. I was so excited, I knew I had taken a good shot and got my first turkey.

When I went and picked the tom up, I knew he was a good one. Even as big as he was, the tom was only about 25 lbs. But when I had to carry it out, it definitely didn’t feel light. I didn’t mind, though, because I had been working out. When I shot the turkey, The sun was barely starting to creep through the trees and I could hear birds chirping. From the time I heard the first gobble, I think every emotion went through my body except anger.

Later, I gutted and skinned the turkey with help from my grandpa and dad. Then I took it home and learned how to process and grind the meat, which I did almost completely by myself. While I was processing the turkey, I felt really bad for killing such an amazing animal, but I knew it was probably meant to be and that it died much faster than it would have had it been killed by any predators. Also, I knew that it’s okay to feel bad when you kill something, because once you stop feeling bad you should stop hunting. Once I processed the turkey, we ate some of it fresh using a recipe my mom had for turkey burgers that my dad grilled on the smoker.

I would like to thank the national wildlife turkey federation, the Arizona elk society, and everyone else who helped with the camp. I would especially like to thank my Grandpa, my Dad, and my uncle (who was with my cousin down the road) for taking me out and teaching me how to hunt.