Spring Turkey in Kansas

The past couple of years my approach to spring turkey has been focused solely on getting my kids each their first bird. The spring season has not seen me with a gun in hand for some time now. Still similarly determined, I caught up with an old buddy – one of my dearest and longest standing brothers-of-the-chase, and the very same that put me on my very first bird way back when – in continuing effort to make this happen.

Jeff is an old college buddy who I do not talk to enough these days, and hunt and fish with even more infrequently – the unfortunate effects of a few too many miles between us, coupled with that family/life thing that keeps me from getting out in his neck of the woods much. I expect one day this will be easier, and we will walk a few more fields and sloughs together. But for now, we enjoy those few and far between days we get. Good fortune and timing wold present itself in a way that gave us a couple of consecutive Saturday’s of just such times.

As stated, my initial goal was to get one of my kids on a bird. The first weekend was to be the son’s chance. And at the last hour, something came up, not an entirely unheard of phenomenon with teenage boys, I guess. I know I would not have missed an opportunity like this at his age. Either way, it came as a disappointment, with Jeff’s report of a “sure thing” awaiting us. And Jeff is one of those guys who scouts, and scouts, and then scouts a little more. His track record speaks to the fact that if Jeff calls and says it’s on, you typically want to clear the calendar.

Not wanting to be “that guy” and render Jeff’s scouting useless, I obliged to carry the gun and see this missions through on behalf of my son, so that he might man the video games and late night movies like a true champion of the great outdoors.

The story from that point on is fairly simple. Surrounded by an orchestra of pre-dawn gobbles, first light came quickly, bearing action from several directions as they flew down from roost and worked across the field before our blind. As if keeping tight to a schedule worked out between he and Jeff, a very nice tom tracked right at us, apparently following the hens that were now a mere 10 yards or less from us. He never hesitated and was a fine target at 15 yards. 21 pounds, 11.5 inches of beard, and 1″ spurs of Eastern Wild Turkey by 7:15 am. A short, but very rewarding show. And it was supposed to be my son’s first bird!

IMG_1126The next weekend would be my daughter’s turn at getting out. Saturday rolled around, and with all of the necessary items acquired (donuts & girlie-coffee) we met up with Jeff at the appointed time and place. We got to our spot, got settled in, and like the weekend before, tuned in to a cacophony of promising chatter all around us.

The early hens and jakes went on to deliver quite a show for us. Abby was able to see some close up action, with birds hopping around and bullying each other about. Unfortunately, the toms kept there distance this morning, never providing a shot to her side of the blind. A later attempt to put the sneak on one we glassed across the field provided some excitement unique to her, but was successful only on that account. In the end, she had a blast, if for nothing more than the fact that she got to put “makeup” on with me (I call it camo facepaint 😉

It’s always nice to appreciate the little things like that, especially when you are out with the kids. Success lends itself to a whole different set of metrics when the kids are involved, and things like facepaint and donuts really can be just as important as bagging game. And I know she’ll be excited to do it again next year.

For a few pics from this hunt, click here.

~ benton

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