Friday, March 4, 2011

"That First Bird"

 This was originally written shortly after this hunt, in March 2008.  It's hard for me to believe it's been 3 years since this hunt took place.  I've seen Trent since this hunt and from what I can tell, this hunt got him started in the outdoors.  I've done alot of things related to hunting, by all accounts, and this stands as one of my proudest memories.  I can only hope my own daughter, Lila, one day gets to experience this with me.

That first bird, do you remember yours? I do. Young jake, 4" beard, never gobbled, stepped into a rye grass plot just like my daddy told me he would. Nothing about it sounded "turkey", more deer hunt than anything, but it was my first. I'll never have another one, and, just as assuredly, I'll never forget it. No matter how 'happenstance' me actually killing him was.

Earlier in the week I got a phone call from one of my very best friends. His question was simple and one I had hoped to receive, "Hey, whatcha doin Saturday?"

"Nothing man, gotta wedding to attend but that's it."

"Well, you wanna go on a youth hunt?"

My response was all he needed, "Keith, you know danged well I do....what time and where?"

My responsibility was to help the young man kill his first bird. Keith? Well, he was going to film it (he does that a good bit), and needed someone to "coach" the fella while sitting beside him. I took that on, but never could I realize the impact something like that could have on a kid.

Trent, well he's 12 years old, and Keith teaches his Sunday school class.  That pretty much sums Keith up.  He always gives more than he receives, stays straight on the Lord's path, and rarely asks for much in return..  That's probably why he has my utmost respect, and always will. I didn't know Trent but it really didn't take long to realize what a nice, respectful young man he was. Quick to jump into a story, even quicker to listen, and answers with "yes sir" and "no sir". I don't ask for that, quite frankly, it makes me a bit uneasy because I'm not that old, but after today, I'm quite certain the country could use a few more Trent's.  Let me tell you, he was cool as a cucumber and deadly as a snake. There was about 10 minutes worth of strutting, spitting and drumming in which this ol' Tom made his presence felt at 20 yards. I know of absolutely no other kid Trent's age that could have stood the pressure -- not sure I could have back then either.

The turkey came up on the side of Trent in which he'd have to move too much to get a shot, so I just made sure he stayed still. And, he did, all the time the gobbler was mere feet in front of Keith allowing for some full framed footage.

We struck the longbeard right when we pulled up, catching Keith and I with our pants down, literally.  My excuse was too much coffee, and I figure Keith had Dr. Pepper or some other junk. We circled into position and waited. This turkey wasn't too fired up, gobbling sparingly, but enough that if the hunt ended with no shot fired, I would have called it a blessed morning. Fortunately, I don't have to worry w/ that:

 L to R: me, Keith, Trent

This ol' boy cut a distance of a few hundred yards in minutes. Looking over at Keith I saw him give a "he's coming" signal.  Refocusing, I looked back and saw that big head bobbing.

My question was simple enough, "Trent, you see the turkey?"

"No sir."

"Trent, he's right see the......."

"OOOH, wow."

And there he sat, for several minutes, strutting and drumming. At one point a couple of crows started fighting and he HAMMERED. I felt it in my chest and heard the breathing of a young boy quicken.

I gotta tell you, at about the 10 minute mark I was getting worried, as was Keith. The gobbler eventually stepped behind a tree, and I told Trent, "it's now or never......take the shot."

For five minutes afterwards, he couldn't speak.

After giving "the account" on film, we packed up and headed home. With Keith and Trent talking it over, I managed a photo:

Small talk on the walk out from a successful hunt
The terrain we were hunting in was some of the finest turkey woods I've seen in a long time, unmolested by loggers, but laced with some of the most dog-awful hills and ridges a man could ever hate to happen upon. About the time Keith and I had enough, Trent shot out and started running, bird in tow. What makes a kid run for no good reason anyhow? I looked at Keith, and he nodded saying, "I know".

Pretty sure we both agreed we would love to be Trent's age again, careless with only the outdoors to worry with.

This was Trent's first turkey hunt, his first gobble, his first strutting bird, his first turkey kill. Quite honestly, he could stop today, brag about this hunt, and he would have seen, heard and lived more turkey than 90% of the population walking this earth. But, I hope he doesn't. Instead, I hope he tells every waking soul, and I hope my friend calls me next year for another youth hunt.

Truly, the world needs more "Trent's":

L to R: Keith, Trent, me

I hope you enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed participating in the hunt itself.  Here's hoping all the youth's have a successful weekend, if not in birds harvested certainly memories made.

Have a great weekend, Justin  

1 comment:

Keith said...

One of my all time favorites!