Friday, April 17, 2009

Turkeys,12 Gauges and 12 year olds

USA Outback host Denny Snyder with 12 year old Rebecca
and 2009 opening day gobbler

Indianapolis, Indiana- To me, there is nothing more exciting than hearing the ol'kettle rattling of a boss tom gobbler at daylight. One of THE best places in the USA to hear just that is the heart of Missouri.

Myself and Genesis Lamp VP of Sales Mark Zukowski recently traveled to the "show me" state of Missouri to share our skills with a sibling pair of girls- only 12 and 14 years old- for the opener of the youth turkey season. If someone had not told me any different, you would swear these two girls were twenty year veterans.

After roosting birds the night before, the stage had been set for what we all hoped would be a successful hunt. One of the hardest things in the entire world to film for an outdoor television show is a turkey hunt. In most cases, there is a shooter, a caller and a cameraman who all must be in synch to avoid detection by the 270 degree turkey radar vision. In this case, my shooter would be 12 year old Rebecca - her sister Victoria would be hunting with my hunting partner Mark Zukowski of Genesis Lamp. Mark had hunted the area for over 14 years and pointed us in the right direction to pin-pointing gobblers at first daylight- thus ensuring us of a successful first day's hunt.

At only 5:35 am, the first long beard started gobbling- and then another - and another until we counted a total of six different birds we could potentially go after. A quick survey of the land had us setting up on the north face of an open field overlooking the valley where we thought the birds would fly down to at first light. A big cedar acted as Rebecca's backstop while I would call and film from just behind her location.

It wasn't long before a lone hen appeared to investigate who the other "hen" was making the commotion in her neck of the woods. The seductive purrs and clucks I made with a Butski diaphragm call in combination with a Knight and Hale slate had every bird in the valley fired up but she was the first to appear. At only a mere 10 feet away, the hen eyed up the strange bush that consisted of Rebecca and myself. Rebecca remained steadfast as the hen tried to catch the slightest movement from this odd conglomeration sitting at a stone's throw away. More than one hunter has joined the alarm putt club by getting busted by an alert hen. The entire sequence is all captured on camera for our new season of USA Outback TV.

It wasn't long before the hen was followed by a pair of jakes- one being quite a bit larger and trying his best to strut which eventually lead to his demise. At less than fifteen yards away, the pair of jakes strolled over to the decoys to make friends only to be introduced to some not so "friendly fire". The Browning 12 gauge roared, the bird was down and another 12 year old had a severe case of "permagrin".

Turkey hunting isn't fishing by any means but I think Rebecca is now "hooked for life" to the wonderful sport of turkey hunting. A picture is worth a thousand words.