I recently got invited to hunt a piece of private property in Ft. White, Fl that is owned by a buddy of mine. My friend told me that he and his grandpa had seen several turkeys on the property and he was kind enough to invite me along for a hunt.
Got up at 0530 and drove over to my friends house to meet him. We then loaded up the car and headed up to Ft. White. We ended up getting out there quite late. It was 0700 by the time we were set up underneath a few large oaks and it was already light enough to see everything. With it being my second time ever hunting turkeys, I still had no idea what I was doing. So my friend set up about 15 yards behind me to call, and I set up near a clearing that faced where the turkeys were supposed to come from.
The last time I went turkey hunting we called and called and I think I heard one turkey gobble somewhere in the next county. We certainly didn’t see anything. This trip started to pan out about like that. In my typical good judgment, I found possibly the smallest diameter tree to lean against and it was busy giving me a spinal realignment while I looked for any movement. We hadn’t heard anything walking in and after calling for about 15 minutes, we still had yet to hear anything. I was still staring out across the clearing when I thought I heard something behind me. I turned to see two jakes walking up from behind. I was rather afraid to move because I knew turkey have such good eyesight. But because of the way I was facing, there was no chance for me to take a shot without moving.
Carefully, I waited until the turkeys moved between myself and a large oak and I quickly turned myself underneath the twig of a tree I was leaning on. I raised my 12 gauge, popped the safety off, and waited for the birds to move into a small opening that was now directly in front of me. My friend had told me prior to this that often the larger of several turkey will hang out in the back and wait for the younger ones to go first. I tried to remember this, but watched as the two jakes switch positions several times as they worked their way through some thick brush and toward my opening. At this point, I picked what I considered to be the biggest one out and got ready to shoot. He stuck his head up, looked around, and just as I was about to pull the trigger, he ducked and turned to walk off. Not wanting to miss my chance, I decided that if even the -slightest- chance was offered again for a shot, I’d take it. Almost immediately, the turkey stopped, facing away from me, stuck his head up again, and I fired.
For a split second, I thought the bird was running off after I fired. Turns out it was just knocked backwards from the shotgun blast. Almost immediately after shooting the jake, I heard my friend begin firing at the second turkey with his 20 gauge. I quickly stood up, chambered another round, took aim on the bird he was shooting at, and squeezed another shot off. At this point, the second bird was way out of range and my shot missed anyway. We looked for blood, but only found one little drop and searched for the second bird for nearly an hour before giving up. Luckily for me, my turkey was dropped in its tracks. Buck fever has never bothered be prior to a shot and this morning was no exception. However, I was a complete and total wreck moments after I downed my bird and could barely stand because my legs were shaking so hard. Guess its better to get it after a shot rather than just before.
Looking at our watches, it was 0730 in the morning and we’d already had a successful hunt. I could certainly get used to having 30 minute hunts. I told my friend he’d ruined me on turkey hunting now. In the future, I might find myself sitting under a tree for 20 minutes and think about giving up because I’d yet to see a turkey. We didn’t weigh the turkey, but I kept the beard (which was a whopping 5 inches long), almost ever feather and all the meat. I thanked my friend repeatedly and set about cleaning the bird. I’m truly grateful to have gotten such an awesome opportunity and experience and it will certainly be one that I will never forget.