By: Keith Kinyon.
I have hunted and fished with my dad since I was 12 years old. Some of my very best memories are experiences afield and on the water with my dad there to share the moment. This year, with my dad approaching his 84th birthday in a month, we were able to share a turkey hunt that unfolded quickly and had all the components of an exciting hunt.
This story started back in December when I had a group of 14 Toms and Jakes that made their way through my property every day. This continued all through the winter until about Mid-March when the birds just disappeared. I know their home range is north of my house and I assumed they retreated back to their home range to try and locate some receptive hens. Meanwhile, I had my dad get a turkey license for my property so he could come up and hunt. Fast forward to the end of April and three trail cameras yielded absolutely no pics of Toms or Jakes on my property. It looked pretty dismal.
Then, out of the clear blue, I ran into a guy I know that has an awesome 40 acre piece of property east of Gladwin that never gets hunted and has ample turkey. I have been trying to get permission to hunt his property for about 10 years, and every year he has denied me. So, I told him my dad had a license and is 83 years old and it would be great to be able to hunt his place because the walk is quite short to the hunting ground and that would be perfect for my dad, since he cannot walk too far. And, to my shock and surprise, the property owner said, “Yes, I would be glad to have him come out and hunt!” I nearly fell over from his unexpected reply. I guess my persistence paid off!!! The very next day I drove out to his house to scout around a little. Weather was half snow/rain so my scouting was brief but I felt I had a decent idea where to set up. I had texted my dad the night before, told him of the new spot, suggested that he pack a bag and drive up Tuesday morning and we could hunt in the middle of the day.
Prior to all this, my dad had sent me pics of some turkey targets that he had shot with his 20ga. at 30, 35, and 40 yards. Patterns at 30-35 looked excellent. I felt the 40 yard pattern would be on the very outside edge of the guns killing potential, so I kept that in mind as I set up the blind and my decoys. On Tuesday morning my dad shows up at my house after his long drive from Lapeer, and we load his gear into my truck and head out to the hunting property. The weather was not good, with strong winds and a continuation of the rain/snow from the previous day. I set up the hub blind and chairs overlooking an open field that had manure spread over about 10 acres of grass. I could see that turkey had been out there picking and scraping around for bugs, so I chose that as our ambush site. Next, I put out a Tom decoy that has a real fan that I glued on the decoy. I set him out there at about 23 paces and I also put out two hen decoys, one in a feeding position and the other in an upright position. It was blowing so hard I had to put an additional stake in beside the tom dec to stop it from blowing around in circles. We climb into the blind, first my dad and then I followed, taking a water bottle and some little snacks along with my pot and peg call and some shooting sticks. After settling in, we are side-by-side, with my dad on the right and me on the left side looking out the zipdown windows. We sit. Nothing… just wind and rain and snow. We talked in low voices, about hunts in the past, trips we have taken together, and whether the Tigers would be any good this year. We sat for about an hour and then a lone hen walked out and to our left. She picked around in no particular hurry. I dug out my pot and peg and started with some very light calls and increased the volume as I went. Shortly after, we see another hen, only to our right and she is yap, yap, yapping. So I started doing the same thing back at her. She fires up again with her yelps and I see several Jakes off to our right, which I could see but my dad could not due to the hard angle. As I look closer, I see that two or three of these Jakes are focused on the Tom decoy that I put out and are headed that way in that quick, stiff-legged walk they have. I whisper to my dad to get his gun ready and click the safety off. The jakes are coming from our right and I see my dad’s chest start to move up and down and I can audibly hear him breathing heavily now. I tell him he has lots of time and I see him slowly move his cheek down on the stock of his shotgun. I was going to say something else, and just as I started to say it, the Jake stopped about a yard from the Tom decoy and he sticks his neck out. My dad’s 20ga barked and the jake went down in a heap! The other jakes stayed for a minute and then left the scene. My dad and I high fived and I congratulated him on a good shot. He jacked another shell in the chamber just in case the bird started off but that was it. I am not sure who was more excited, me or my dad. I got us out of the blind and we went up and saw the bird with its beautiful feathers and strong wings. We took pictures and verbally talked out what had just happened. Was super exciting with me calling and the birds coming to the decoys. It is the first turkey my dad has taken since 2016, so he was just ecstatic to get to go and pull it off in such short notice. Another one for the memory bank, for sure.