If you haven’t read Part 1 and Part 2, be sure to check them out before you read this post. After a well needed rest, we met up with Mark Talley’s friend Mark Cunningham and his son Kai. We took them back over to the lease so that we could check Kai’s gun. After a couple of shots, we were good to go. Into the woods we go, 2 youth hunters (11 and 10 years old), 2 Dads that have never turkey hunted (the stooges) and me. We had hunting equipment, camera equipment, chairs for my double bull blind and the kitchen sink. At least we had lots of pack mules with us. I was working hard to keep us moving through the woods as stealthily (is that a word?) as possible, but come on, it was close to impossible. When we got close to where my double bull was set up on the edge of a clover field, I slipped off through the pines instead of using the road because I didn’t want to bust any birds that were hanging in the small clear cut. With only a little complaining, we made it through the pine thicket and got set up. We were running late, but I thought we would still be ok. I got the kids set up in the blind, sent the Dads to the shooting house that I had hung camo in the day before, slipped into the clover field to set up my decoys (killer B and she mobile) and pull the card on my game camera. To my dismay, the Dads met me on my way back to the blind, whispering, “Hey, we have a problem, there are tons of wasps in the house!” To which I responded, “You’re kidding, I was just in there yesterday hanging the camo on the windows and it was all clear.” They responded, ” For real, they are everywhere and we can’t sit in there.” I sighed and said ok, lets build you a blind on the ground. I cut tons of limbs and built them a blind and got them situated on the ground and I got in my double bull. 30 seconds later, Mark Talley gets up and walks in front of the blind and heads towards the shooting house. I whispered to Mark Cunningham, “What is Mark doing?” He said he had no idea. Evidently Mark had sat in a wet spot and wasn’t comfortable, so he was going to claim the shooting house back. A minute later, I heard what sounded like a tornado going on inside the shooting house. Mark was at war with the wasps. He had his outer layer shirt in his hand and was swinging it around and screaming guttural noises and evidently killing wasps like crazy. At one point one of the boat chairs flew out the back of the house. At that point, I honestly gave up hope. I told Mark Cunningham and the kids if Mark Talley didn’t stop soon, we were going to have to leave. There couldn’t be a turkey within 100 miles of that noise. It finally quieted down, Talley climbed out, walked over and told Cunningham to, “COME ON, THAT IS MY D#$@ HOUSE!” He had won the war. They got in the house, got settled and I reluctantly started calling. Every 2 minutes, I could hear a slap of a hat as they were having ongoing mini-skirmishes with rogue wasps trying to get back in the house. If that weren’t bad enough, they were coughing like they had the plague. Talley had stirred up quite a bit of dust during the war. I did my best to call louder than the noise they were making to cover it up, but I sure wasn’t very confident. The kids were still excited.
By now, it was about 3:25. I did a long series of cuts and yelps using a box call, my purrfection slate and my Signature Series mouth call. At 3:30, I got a text from Mark Talley saying “Big Gobbler coming through the woods”. They could see a little better than we could. I thought he was messing with me, but I started scanning the woods. Sure enough, I see a red head coming through the woods behind the shooting house. He got to the edge of the field and paused. I purred and clucked and he took a couple more steps. I gently pulled on the chord leading to Killer B, making his tail go down then back up and the old gobbler started running in on a half strut. I told Kai to get ready and I helped him get in position with the shooting stick in place. When the turkey got close to Killer B, I asked Kai if he was on him, he said yes. I clucked. The turkey stopped and stuck his head up. I whispered to Kai to “Kill Him!” and he did! That 20 gauge pump went off and the gobbler was pedaling a bicycle to no where. I ran out to the gobbler and we started celebrating. A break for a little bit about Kai. His Dad is not a hunter. His grandpa is, but is getting to the point that it is tough for him to hunt. For whatever reason, Kai decidd at 5 years old that he wanted to go turkey hunting. 5 years later, thanks to Mark Talley making the connection, he and his Dad joined us and I was able to help make his dream come true. I am honored to have been a part of that moment. What a generous thing Stephen did, letting Kai shoot first on what was planned to be his hunt! I am proud of my nephew for that!
Back to the story, after several high 5s and hugs, a moment to reflect and give thanks for the opportunity, I had the kids back in the blind and the Dads back in the house. I wasn’t totally optimistic that we could get on another bird, but I didn’t let them know. I worked to fire Stephen up, to beat down the jealous bug. I started my routine again with some soft stuff, leading into some excited flock talking. At 4:15, almost exactly 45 minutes after Kai’s bird, I heard pffft…DUUUUuuuum. I looked right and coming through the woods on the other side of the field was a strutter! I hustled Stephen into position as the gobbler came strutting in to the decoys. I asked Stephen if he could get on him and he said, ” Oh Yeaaaa!”
Love that confidence! When the bird got to 30 yards, he realized something wasn’t right and started angling away. I whispered to Stephen to “Kill him quick!” He made a great 37 yard shot. Youth Bird #2 was down. In tears of joy and excitement, I ran out to the bird and held my hands up to the shooting house hollering “Can you believe it?!?” Absolutely amazing! Needless to say, we did tons of celebrating, hugging, calling friends and family and of course giving thanks to the Man upstairs for making it happen. There is no other way that we could have pulled this off, doing everything possible wrong to blow it and it still working out! Thank You Again Lord for an amazing day with my nephew Stephen, his friend Kai, and their Dad’s!