By Alex Comstock
Growing up where I have, turkey hunting has never been on my radar. I was never around turkeys, and didn't know anybody that hunted them. But in the last year or so, as I have gotten to know more people that hunt them, I have been told countless times I need to try it. I got to the point where I knew I wanted to give it a shot, but I didn't know how, or where to go.
For the last couple of years, I have been traveling to Nebraska to deer hunt a few times each fall. While I was down in the summer doing some whitetail prep last year, my cousin who lives close to where I deer hunt offered to take me turkey hunting in the spring. I thought that this would be a perfect time to try it, and have the chance to learn from a seasoned turkey hunter. A few days ago, on Thursday April 13th, I found myself headed to Nebraska to see if I could arrow a gobbler.
Going into the hunt, I had no idea what to expect. In the months prior to hunting, I tried to gain as much knowledge of them as possible. I read up on turkey habits, strategies, and where their vitals were. I watched turkey hunting videos for the first time, and I quickly realized these birds seemed like they could be a ton of fun to hunt. I was eager to get into a blind, and to see how I would react at the first opportunity I had.
Friday April 14th: In the weeks prior to the hunt, Kaleb (my cousin) had done a fair amount of scouting, and decided we would try our luck in a field he had seen turkeys in multiple times. We went in, set up a ground blind, got the decoys out and waited. We heard a single gobble in the morning, and saw one tom, but he was wary, and didn't want to come into our decoys. After an hour of sitting, we decided to move spots, to an area where turkeys liked to hang out in the mid morning.
After arriving to the new spot, we set up the ground blind on the edge of a long and narrow opening at the top of a ridge in a chunk of timber. It didn't take long for the action to heat up. Not more than five minutes after getting situated in the blind, I looked to our left and noticed two birds in full strut. I tapped Kaleb, pointed them out, and he said to me, "Their both big jakes, do you want to shoot?" Having been my first time ever turkey hunting, I wasn't about to be picky. I had my bow in hand, and was ready to shoot the first jake that presented a shot.
The next thirty minutes couldn't have gone any better. One thing that I wanted to experience was to see birds strutting, gobbling, and "doing the thing". And that is exactly what I got. The jakes were hesitant, and didn't want to commit to our decoys. But in doing so, they hung up just out of range for twenty to thirty minutes, strutting around and every now and again Kaleb would give a soft yelp, and the jakes would gobble. This was awesome for me to watch, but as every minute went by, my nerves were getting worse and worse, and I was shaking relatively bad. I think this was the moment I became hooked. I didn't really know how I would react to a shot opportunity, being that I'm so used to only drawing back on deer. But the jitters that were flowing through my body, and the adrenaline rush I was getting solidified that I would be doing this again.
After watching the birds put on a show, they finally committed to the decoys, and started heading for us. Once the two jakes were at about fifteen yards, I waited until I thought it was an opportune moment to draw my bow. I pulled back, put my pin on the closest turkey, and touched off. The arrow hit its mark, burying into the feathers and the jake tried flying off. He barely made it over the ridge top, and even though he disappeared into the timber, we knew he was hurting, and shouldn't have made it far. After watching the video back, we confirmed it was a good shot, and that's when the celebration started. I was fist pumping in the blind, and was beyond excited. I wanted to jump out and go get the turkey, but Kaleb advised we wait awhile, just to make sure we gave him enough time to expire.
After giving him a little time, Kaleb and I headed to where we saw him fly into the timber. Not more than five minutes later, I was standing over my first ever turkey. It was experience I won't soon forget, and is something that I definitely want to continue to do.
Now with it being a few days after the hunt, and having the chance to reflect on the hunt, it was everything that I could have asked for. I went into it not knowing what to expect, or how I would like it. I quickly found out why so many people across the country chase these animals, and how fun it is to hunt them. I was beyond fortunate to harvest the bird I did, and I hope I'm able to arrow many more turkeys in my life.