Iintroduced my two sons-in-law to the great sport of hunting in 2019, when I took both of them on their first-ever hunt during the opening week of spring turkey season on a river-bottom farm in my native Kansas. These young men, in their mid- and late-30s, joined the NRA at my encouragement and both have obtained their concealed-carry permits (also at my urging). They have since armed themselves with fine shotguns, rifles and handguns.
Matt Kroupa, my oldest son-in-law, and Brant Gilbert, my younger, enjoyed an experience that created outdoorsmen for life. On opening day, we were buddy hunting in our blinds, Matt with me and Brant with my brother-in-law Dan. The gobblers were hot and were answering my calls before first light. We had a few decoys placed along the edge of the winter wheat and milo stubble.
About midmorning, Matt and I heard shots from Brant’s blind. A few minutes later, we looked towards their blind about 400 yards away and there was Brant, facing me and Matt and proudly holding two big toms and smiling like a Cheshire cat. Dan also bagged his two toms on this trip, but Matt and I got skunked. Still, it was among the most memorable hunts of my life with these two young men. To quote Matt, “This was an amazing adventure.”
One very unusual thing about this hunt is that during my entire career of hunting and fishing, my friends and relatives have never taken a good trophy photo. Either the hunter’s head is cut off or most of the animal is not visible. Brant’s quality photo (included here) was a minor miracle.
Brant and Matt are still learning how to call in gobblers during the spring season, but they are quick studies and are practicing with diaphragm calls. I personally prefer my box calls, and on this hunt Dan and I did all the calling. My sons-in-law had never heard a tom gobble before in the wild, and as you likely know, turkey hunting during the mating season is a rush. It is my favorite hunt of all.
Matt and Brant will join me this April for spring turkey in north-central Kansas, and they will join me this December for their inaugural big-game hunt when we go whitetail hunting on the same farm. This part of Kansas is characterized by river-bottom farms with lots of cover, plenty of food, huge roost trees of every kind imaginable and turkeys galore. There are rivers and creeks everywhere, and the creek running through our farm can actually be navigated in a rowboat or canoe, despite the occasional sandbar.
My wife and I are blessed with a large extended family, and the majority of them are in Colorado. Most are devout supporters of the NRA, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. While my oldest daughter, Beth, is married to Matt, and my middle daughter, Amy, is married to Brant, it remains to be seen if Briana's (my now-engaged youngest daughter) fiance, will join us on future hunts. We can remain hopeful!
I encourage all freedom-loving Americans to support the NRA. According to a recent column in American Hunter magazine, there were more than 7.5 million new gun owners in 2020 alone, but less than 10 percent belong to the NRA. Sign up your friends and relatives so we have a “Freedom Fund” to help fight those who would take our freedom away from us.
Do you have an exciting, unusual or humorous hunting experience to share? Send your story (800 words or less) to[email protected]or toAmerican 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.