The outdoors has special meaning to me. I caught my first fish at age 4 and shot my first duck at age 9. Nearly four decades later I still get excited when I get to spend any time outdoors. A lot has changed during that time but the anticipation and experiences are still similar and just as exciting. It’s a great place to be....Read More

Thursday, May 1, 2014


               The spring turkey season is one of anticipation.  Thunderous gobbles get any hunter’s blood pumping and the sight and sounds of a big tom coming to a decoy in full strut is mesmerizing.  The opportunity to take a tom turkey in the spring doesn’t get much better in the grand scheme of all things hunting.  That is, unless you get the chance to take two toms!
               Even more rewarding might be watching someone else do it.  It’s always fun to tag along on any successful turkey hunt and maybe even more rewarding when it’s a youngster on his first-ever turkey outing.
I was helping with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s 14th Annual Youth Turkey Hunt at Hutchinson during the youth turkey season.  I was guiding a 13-year-old Anthony resident, Jaden, on Saturday afternoon.  Jaden is an avid outdoors kid, but he’d never killed a turkey.
               We arrived at our location in Reno County and weren’t in the blind long when turkeys started to respond to a few yelps.  They weren’t in a hurry to come in, but they would answer enough to make it exciting to listen. 
               About 45 minutes into our evening sit, Jaden got excited and whispered that turkeys were coming.  Eight or 9 hens came trotting in followed by two longbeards.  Jaden had borrowed my 12 gauge and had it resting on shooting sticks pointed out the front.  The problem was the strutting toms were on the left. 
               Fearing they were going to leave, I had Jaden reposition his gun to that window.  Once he was lined up I told him to shoot the nearest full-strut gobbler and the sound of the shot sent turkeys scattering in every direction.  Jaden’s first bird flopped a few times and lay still in front of us only 18 yards away.  His ear-to-ear smile said it all.           
               Knowing more turkeys were still in the vicinity I opted to stay in the blind.  We still had 90 minutes until shooting time ended and distant gobbles were encouraging.  About 50 minutes later more hens came by and three jakes found Jaden’s first tom and proceeded to jump on and flog it.  Jaden nearly laughed out loud and asked why they were whipping his bird!
               Before I could get much of a response out, two toms, one in full strut, came waddling down the sandhill and bowled the three jakes right off the dead bird.  He stood on the dead tom in full strut and pecked at his deceased rival.  Jaden’s eyes were about to pop out of his head.
               “Shoot that one, too!” I told Jaden as he eased his gun over to the same window. 
Again, the sound of the shot sent turkeys scattering and Jaden had his second tom.  Even more entertaining was the one surviving tom would not leave.  Nor, could he decide which dead bird he needed to whip and went back and forth.  Jaden was enjoying the show when I finally started talking to the confused turkey and it gobbled back at every sound.  We were both laughing by now.
               Although his 2014 season was over in less than an hour, it was an incredibly memorable experience.  When he left, Jaden said “I’ll remember this for the rest of my life!”
               I will, too, as it was a great day be a spectator in the Kansas outdoors.