How to Botch a Turkey Hunt…(Part 1)

In honor of turkey season starting shortly, I’ve pulled this three-part series out of the archives…the plan is for this NOT to happen this year!


My father wasn’t a turkey hunter (there were no turkey here), so my years as his bird-girl for dove, duck, and quail never prepped me for the day I’d take on the job of being the turkey guide for my 7 year old son. Spirits were high as we laid our things out the night before, and as he jumped out of bed (rare!) at zero-dark-thirty the next morning, everything looked hopeful (even though must confess I hadn’t been listening to the “How to be an Expert Turkey Caller” CDs my brother had donated to my guiding success). Maybe I wasn’t exactly ready, or trained, or anything — still, it promised to be a beautiful dawn in the woods with my son. And it was.


Alligator Hall Scenic, Sarah Sanford, Turkey Hunt


Look, I’m a “cup’s half full” kind of girl, but even I knew we had NO chance to seeing a turkey. Still, something happens once you get out there, the intensity kicks in and suddenly, you’re the hunter on a real mission. We may have headed out half-cocked, but now, we’re serious. Yep, those birds don’t stand a chance. (That’s what I was thinking — kind of.) And with intensity comes, well, the possibility of snapping at your beautiful child. Heading into the woods, we encountered our first hurdle…my son’s boots were too big. He coudln’t walk without making a loud scuffing boot sound. Irritating to a mother — terrifying to a turkey, I was sure. (It couldn’t have been my hissing, “pick up your feet” again and again that spooked our fine feathered friends.)


Sarah Sanford, Turkey Hunt, Alligator Hall


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Turkey hunt


Now it’s easy to blame others, so I have to take my own share of the blame for being LESS than subtle in the quiet woods that morning. OK, so I didn’t really have a good camo outfit, so I used what I had…and found the best “blind” I could find to match my outfit…


Sarah Sanford, Turkey Hunt, Alligator Hall

Go ahead. Laugh. The birds did.


So it all came together. I hid by the disk harrow, and I let the kid do his thing…


Sarah Sanford, Turkey Hunt, Alligator Hall


Sarah Sanford, Turkey Hunt, Alligator Hall

And there was nothing. We’d scared them all into the next county, I was positive.


Sarah Sanford, Turkey Hunt, Alligator Hall


Then it happened.


Sarah Sanford, Turkey Hunt, Alligator Hall


My little turkey caller and his box call didn’t need me! The turkeys LOVED him!  I was expendable! I was nothing! I was in the way. Guide, schmide! Well at least I can shoot, he reminded me (snapping, I might add), “so load the gun, Mom!”


Alligator Hall, Sarah Sanford, Turkey Hunting


Here’s where it hurts. My little turkey hunter called those turkeys in closer…I reached into my pocket. I’d brought 20 gauge shells — and was holding a 12 gauge shotgun. I didn’t have the heart to tell him.  THANK GOODNESS the turkeys didn’t quite come into range. As it was, we’d had a HUGE success for our first turkey hunt!  We’re headed out tomorrow — after I go hunting at our local outfitter for some good camo (and the 12 gauge shells…)


Here’s the link to part 2:  Part 2 of How NOT to Botch a Turkey Hunt