There is something about escaping into the woods on a crisp early morning, watching the sun crest over the horizon and hearing that first gobble as shades of gray turn to vibrant spring colors. Many hunters find this to be just the thing they need to reset after the daily grind of life. Although there is enjoyment in harvesting a nice gobbler when you are by yourself, there is nothing like sharing the moment with someone else. Whether it be a friend or a family member, hunting with a partner can be a great way to enjoy the moment when everything comes together.
I often enjoy taking a friend with me on a turkey hunt. Before heading to the woods with a hunting buddy, it is wise to consider the advantages and disadvantages, so I’m prepared to make the most of the hunt without mistakes that could cost me a harvest.
Among the challenges of embarking on a long beard hunt with a buddy is added movement. From moving to our setup, stalking a turkey, or sitting at a tree, I must be constantly aware of this. A turkey’s keen eyesight can call the hunt much quicker when there are two people. It is important to remain close together so quiet and easy communication can allow us to work together to go undetected by that sly old tom. When unsure of the location of the turkey, I will often have one of us go solo in those vulnerable spots, like the top of a ridge or a clearcut. Even sitting at a tree, I want to keep my hunting partner as close as possible, either next to me or just behind the tree, for clear and easy communication. Not knowing what my partner would do has cost many a turkey.
Help in the hunt
On the plus side, being able to bounce ideas off of a buddy can lead to a more ironclad plan. When I’m alone, with little time to think, a hasty decision can leave me with regrets. Having a hunting partner can be one more person to collaborate on a strategy with a clearer head to bag a gobbler.
In addition, another set of eyes can save the day. With those crafty birds, you never know when you will accidentally stumble upon one. More than one story comes to mind of times when a mature gobbler saw me before I saw him. Having one more person on the lookout can make the difference between harvesting a turkey and watching them fly out of your life.
An extra set of eyes can even make one success story even better! Such an event occurred when my son and I were hunting together. We made a long move on several gobblers we heard on the limb hundreds of yards away. When we could close the distance, the birds had already flown down and were working away from us. We quickly set up and began to call - both gobblers answered and, without hens, made their way back to us. As they came into range, my son could harvest one of the toms, with the other eventually running off to our left. I quieted my son, let out a few frantic mouth calls, and grabbed the shotgun. As I saw the bird start to run even faster, I thought the chances of a double were over. But then I heard my son whisper, “Dad, he’s running back to us!” What I mistakenly took for the second gobbler running away from us was the bird running back toward us. Seconds later, we were both standing behind two Ozark Easterners! The fans are still hanging on my office wall - a hunt I won’t forget!
Among the advantages of hunting with a partner is the obvious camaraderie that comes with the experience. There is nothing like sharing the harvest experience with someone else, retelling the story through both sets of eyes. Sharing in the beauty of the morning also brings added joy. Nothing can strengthen the bonds of friendship more than a spring turkey-hunting adventure. It adds joy during the hunt, but having an extra person can allow one of us to film the hunt, which is fun to watch long after spring is over, and the shotgun is hung back on the hook.
Mentoring Young Hunters
A newly formed passion is being a mentor to young hunters who have never experienced the joys and adventures hunting brings. Introducing a lifelong passion I have to another person, particularly the next generation, is not only rewarding but a blessing to me. What better way to introduce someone to the hunting field than a spring turkey hunt?
The thrill of watching their face when that first turkey gobbles, the adventures of stalking a bird, and the finale of seeing them harvest their first bird with the joy and excitement on their face is priceless. Teaching a friend or family member how to hunt a turkey can be more memorable than any hunt I could ever experience on my own.
Sharing with family
Sharing turkey hunts with family members builds the bonds of relationships and creates memories to last a lifetime and beyond. Sharing hunts with a son or daughter leaves a legacy that can be passed down from generation to generation. Not only passing on the tradition of hunting but also sharing a passion for turkey hunting with my kids.
I was hunting with my son, CJ, a few years back. It was the final hunt for us at the close of what was for us a very hard season. After a long day of chasing turkeys, we were scouting for a bird in the truck and about to head home when my son spotted something in the field. After first spotting a hen, we also realized a mature gobbler was with her. I asked him if he wanted to go chase him - he immediately responded, “Let’s go!” With only an hour left before the season would close for the day, we headed out after this turkey. Making our way through some woods around to the back side of the field where we last saw the turkeys, we spotted them just over a rise. Belly crawling across the open field, we closed the distance as we made a bee line for the only cover we could find - a mulberry bush in the open field. Setting up the camera behind the bush, I got behind the viewfinder, with my son on his belly just to the left of the bush, and let out a light call, throwing my head behind us to mimic a hen where we had just come from. The turkey came to strut and let out a loud gobble. After another call or two, the turkey began heading toward us. What seemed like an eternity but was only a few minutes, Tom had come as far as he was going, and I knew it was now or never. I asked CJ if he was on the bird. “Yes!” he replied. Giving him the signal to go, CJ let the ol’ Mossberg rip, and the turkey fell over right in his tracks! Even though I was not the hunter behind the gun that day, I will remember that hunt as long as I live. And the moments I shared with my son that day were priceless!
Though I will always cherish those mornings in the woods solo to experience God’s creation, I will hold dear the hunts with family and friends and the memories made for a lifetime!