This story begins back in January of 2009 at Eagle Lakes outfitters where I had gone on an archery bow hunt. We had a great group in camp, one of which was Jerry Moody A.K.A. “Junebug”, who I found out lives only two hours south of us in North Carolina. Before we left Pike County I invited Junebug to bring his son Jackson up to Virginia for a turkey hunt on our youth day. After returning home we stayed in touch and worked out the details on getting Jackson his first turkey.
Fast forward to April 1, 2009. I had been seeing several groups of turkeys and made a choice on which group of birds we would try to hunt. I did the best I could to scout both morning and evening to find out where the turkeys roosted, what they did each morning, and how many gobblers were in the group. After my Friday morning scouting trip, I had a good idea of what was going on. I slipped in during mid-day and set up an Ameristep blind about 100 yards from where the turkeys roosted the previous 3 nights, and just yards from where I’d watched the gobblers strutting.
Friday evening the Carolina boys rolled in, and after eating dinner we checked the weather forecast. We were all a bit concerned when we learned the winds overnight would gust over 50 mph. After a restless nights sleep, we awoke to the same high winds. As we made our way through the darkness I even wondered if the blind would still be where I’d set it up. Upon reaching our location we were all happy to see the blind was still in place.
We crawled in and got everything set up as the world around us woke up and greeted a new day. We couldn’t hear the turkeys on the roost, but I knew they were there. As the moments past I began to doubt my plan, but suddenly Jackson said “I see a turkey.” We all watched as the rest of the flock entered the field edge and began feeding toward us. After glassing the birds we had a count of 4 jakes and 6 hens, but no long beards. When the group got to around 30 yards, much to all of our surprise, a long beard came strutting in from the timber to our left. He really put on a show strutting and gobbling. The problem was, he was just out of range for the little .410 single shot Jackson was holding.
I called softly with a slate call and we all thought it was over when the old bird walked back into the woods taking all the others with him. As we sat wondering why he did that, the birds began coming back into the field only closer this time, but we still needed him to come another 5 yards. (Jackson is only 8 years old and is more content than I ever expected—I couldn’t believe how still he was. This was his first turkey hunt and I was very impressed.) As the gobbler fed and strutted in front of us I heard a hen call from behind us. I knew this had to be a good thing. Well I wasn’t the only one who heard that hen, so did the gobbler as he closed the gap to 20 yards. I heard Junebug say, “Next time he raises his head take him.” I knew it was about to happen and we watched as Jackson made a great shot. At the shot, the turkey seemed to do cartwheels down the hill out of site. We all celebrated and Jackson took off looking for his bird. We joined the search and at the bottom of the hill lay the turkey. He was done!
I don’t know who was happier Jackson, Junebug, or myself. I know it’s a hunt we’ll all remember. With Jackson being 8 years old and he’s now taken a whitetail buck, and an eastern long beard. I think he’s hooked on hunting and I’m glad I could be part of it. Congratulations Jackson and Junebug!