I can't explain how awesome of a day we had Saturday for the opener of youth weekend. My almost 9 year old passed his hunters safety class 2 months ago, and with good behavior, was allowed to go on his first ever hunt. Now, I have been hunting turkey for 7-8 years since moving out here, and never got one. One of his goals was to "get one before Dad". A friend who was helping us had found a single gobbler on public land a couple weeks ago, so we started there. We didn't see or hear a single thing. Decided after a while that we should move and try to locate some, and in the next 45 minutes, we saw one single hen.
So we took a drive in another area, and after seeing 7-8 hunters along the road and zero birds, we were just leaving the area when we rounded a corner and a big black bird flew across the road in front of us down into a draw. We jumped out, couldn't see it, and were about to leave when it gobbled down in the bottom. We immediately went around to the opposite ridge, where we figured it would try to go up and over towards private property. We set up in a nice spot, with almost a perfect green "runway" right up the draw in front of us, 25-30 yard shot at the most. Half hour later, we hear very small rapid clucks directly behind us. I asked my friend (who has killed tons of birds and deer) if he heard it, said it sounded like a hen. He immediately corrected me, said it was an alarm call, we had been spotted. Sure enough, a couple minutes later, we hear him gobbling as he trotted away unseen. We waited to see if he'd circle back, thinking he would still want to get over that ridge. Well, we heard him gobble across the road on top of a hill. Bummer. Gave it another 10 minutes and decided to look for others. I said I wanted my son to peek into the draw below us just in case, and as we did that, a bird let out a gobble right below us (maybe different birds?).
We were almost standing in the middle of that "runway", and immediately looked to our left, saw a nice oak tree with some low brush, and the draw coming right past it. We dove down behind the tree, and as I was getting him set up on the shooting sticks, my buddy said excitedly that he was coming up the hill, he could hear him. Wasn't 30 second later, I saw movement through the brush. My son was set to shoot as soon as he cleared but we warned him he may have to shot through a little brush. It was only 20 yards or so, so we were not too worried about that. Anyway, he Stopped about 5 yards short of being open, puffed up and strutted for a second then his head went straight up. Pretty sure he saw us, he started to turn and step away, but still through a little brush. We were excitedly whispering "Shoot, shoot now. Shoot him"..... . Well, My little guy readjusted to the left, says he saw an opening through the brush, and fired. Dropped on the spot, rolling down the hill, flapping feathers everywhere. I grabbed the gun, told him to run and step on his head. So there goes my buddy and my son flying down into the draw, with my son jumping on the turkey.
Lots of hugs and high fives, never been so excited. And it was a great bird, which if it wasn't for my excitement, and haste to get home and prepared, probably should have had officially weighed and measured. It ended up weighing 20 pounds. It has spurs at 1 1/4 " each, and get this, a 10 1/4 " beard. If it's even 20 pounds, and my calculations are correct, that would put it tied for 49th best for score in California in the NWTF books (Not that it matters). Unreal. Told him he got spoiled good, and a normal hunter like me would rarely ever get a bird like that, especially on public land.
Thanks for letting me tell my long (Extremely) story, but it's been 8 years in the making...... Oh, here's a shot to show his smile, and get an appreciation of the size of the bird. One further thing you'll notice, I made a slight alteration. With the unscrupulous characters out there on the internet today, we're a little leery of putting the photo, especially with a gun, out there.