We were teeming with excitement early Saturday morning as we headed to a new property Grant received permission to hunt. We climbed rough roads for miles as we neared our destination — even crossing a questionable single lane bridge at one point that made me more than a little uncomfortable, which Grant found hilarious. The landowner met us outside his cabin with a warm welcome as we pulled up. I instantly felt right at home as he spoke with us about our plans.
We drove on to the top of the mountain, parking our 4runner on the edge of a tree line in a cattle pasture. The wind whipped our faces as we hopped out, and I knew it would be a big factor in our pursuit of a gobbler. I looked around, trying to take in my surroundings and noticing we were high up in the Ozarks. I could see the vague outline of mountains all around us as the pre-dawn light started illuminating the landscape.
We eased down, out of the wind, to a lower pasture that looked ideal for turkeys according to our OnX Hunt maps. We heard a couple distant gobbles on the ridge across from the pasture and decided our best option was to play it safe and wait him out. We sat up on the edge of the field, tucked back into the brush with our decoy about 30 yards in front of us.
As mid-morning neared, my body ached from sitting. I couldn’t hold back a small smile as the growing baby in my belly kicked every once in a while. I turned around to toss Grant a snack and discuss our strategy. Being a little older and wiser than we have been on hunts gone by, we decided to remain patient and hold tight – a decision that ultimately paid off because not five minutes later, we heard a gobble across the field, and here he came! I couldn’t believe I was in Arkansas as I saw not just one, or two, but THREE long beards headed our way. My heart instantly started thundering in my ears, but I kept my composure, knowing this was my opportunity.
Grant gave a few soft yelps, and they all answered. Their beards were swinging as they closed the gap from a couple hundred yards to fifty in no time. I laughed to myself as I thought “the first one to make It to the decoy wins the prize!”
Well, they weren’t as aggressive as I was expecting. They didn’t venture too close to the half strut Jake decoy. They wanted to stay on what I assume is their typical route across the pasture funneling into an old road we had walked down earlier that morning.
One gobbler edged closer to the decoy than the others, but he was still about 10 yards behind It. Then he started to ease back toward his buddies who were holding about 30 yards to the left of the decoy. My gobbler stopped and stuck his head up high eyeing the decoy from a distance: I got the feeling he was getting nervous.
Of course he was directly behind a little bit of brush, but It wasn’t too thick, and I could still see his head through it. I placed my bead right where his feathers meet his neck and squeezed the trigger! To my surprise, the bird rocked backward and then flew right at me!! He was hit hard, but needed to be finished.
Grant hollered at me to get him, so I jumped up and ran out of the brush. Keep in mind, I’m 6 months pregnant and had undone my pants to accommodate the belly. So as I was barreling toward the bird, my pants were starting to fall down. Catching sight of me – and it must have been a sight – the gobbler flared to my right as I tried to shoulder my gun and swing on him. I completely whiffed. 😅
I pivoted quickly, knowing I had to make the next shot count. Instinctively, I steadied my aim and squeezed off the trigger stopping him right in his tracks. Mama’s got mouths to feed, and I wasn’t letting this one get away!
Three shots in, out of breath, and pants sagging is not the ideal way to bag a gobbler, but hey, it’s turkey hunting, and sometimes things get a little western. I’m thankful for the meat this bird will provide for our family and the awesome experience with my husband in the Ozark Mountains I’ll always remember. Now time to bring this bird home to our son, Wilder!