Dad goes to Florida to hunt turkeys every year, but this year I was asked to go with him. We were going to join up with some friends and other kids—Jack, Hannah and Grace—on a special youth hunt. I couldn’t believe I was going to get to ride on an airplane to go hunting. I got nervous when I thought about it, and my stomach became full of butterflies.
A couple weeks before we left, my dad and his turkey hunting buddy took me to the range. Dad set up targets that had turkey heads on them at 25 yards. I shot the shotguns and Dad kept handing me different shells. The last shot I took was at a target at 30 yards. Dad said the pattern was great and we were done. My shotgun, a Remington 11-87 Sportsman Compact Synthetic 20-gauge, patterned the best with No. 6 Remington Premier Magnum turkey loads. On the way home, I counted the hits on the target and there were 46 holes. Dad said that was good and I was ready to hunt.
We drove to the airport and it was a great feeling because I have never been on an airplane to go hunting. When we stopped in Atlanta to get on another plane, the butterflies were about to burst out of my stomach. We finally made it to the camp. It was small and comfy. I liked the turkeys mounted on the wall. My dad’s friends were there and they showed me where to aim on the turkey. The other Jack from Virginia and I went upstairs where the boys were to sleep to get our camouflage and backpacks laid out. I had a hard time falling to sleep, and Jack told me I talked all night in my sleep. He even said I told my dad in the middle of the night that I was ready to go hunting. I don’t remember that, but Jack laughed and said it was funny.
The first morning of the hunt, Mr. Tussey from Osceola Outdoors woke us up at 4 a.m. by blasting an air horn up the stairs. It scared me and Jack half to death! We laughed about it later. We drove to a farm and parked at a gate. We walked a sandy road and I saw a lightning bug on a leaf. I thought that was cool because the air was warm here, but it was still winter back home. We walked a mile, and then Mr. Tussey put up a tent blind and set out decoys in the field. The mosquitoes came in the tent by the hundreds and I couldn’t help but swat at them. Dad forgot his Thermacell and he was mad, but someone found an old can of bug spray in their vest and when we sprayed it all the bugs left. I was so happy.
A half hour later the sun started to rise, and it was beautiful and red. The turkeys started gobbling and there were two owls hooting back and forth to each other. The turkeys gobbled at them, too. We thought the turkeys were going to come out in the field, but they didn’t and they stopped gobbling. I thought the hunt was over because we hadn’t heard them in a while.
Mr. Tussey decided to move the tent blind and the decoys, and about an hour later a charcoal black coyote came sneaking around the decoys but he ran off quickly. (Dad and Mr. Tussey are still talking about that coyote!) About 10 minutes after the coyote left the decoys, Mr. Tussey made a hen yelp on his pot call and turkeys gobbled. I put my shotgun on the shooting sticks. They gobbled again and Mr. Tussey said, “Here they come.” I looked down the road and three big gobblers were walking and strutting toward us. I could hear them make a noise when they puffed up. I could hear Dad breathing hard, too. Mr. Tussey told me to aim for the one on the left and told me to wait for it to clear the other turkeys. I was having a hard time breathing. He said, “Shoot!” I put the bead on the turkey and pulled the trigger. The turkey flopped, and the other two walked around and even gobbled. I have never seen turkeys do that.
After the other turkeys walked away, we walked out to get my turkey. Mr. Tussey told me I put the hammer down on him and to hold my turkey up. Dad called me a turkey hunter, and it made me proud.
Jack got his turkey that evening, and the next day Hannah and Grace got theirs, too. I was so excited that everyone got their turkeys, and everyone in camp was so nice. I can’t wait to go back!
Do you have an exciting, unusual or humorous hunting experience to share? Send your story (800 words or less) to email@example.com or to American Hunter, Dept. MH, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA. 22030-9400. Please include your NRA ID number. Good quality photos are welcome. Make sure you have permission to use the material. Authors will not be paid, and manuscripts and photos will not be returned. All material becomes the property of NRA.