by: Aimee Hartwig
When Ty and I set a goal to help kids and new hunters find success in the spring of 2018, we had no idea where the path was going to lead us. But, it set in motion one of the most rewarding seasons of our lives, and it all began with a young man named Marshall.
His dedication and determination to become proficient with a bow and harvest his first turkey, not only impressed us, but it inspired us to keep looking for ways to help others.
Marshall doesn’t come from a hunting family. He had only just picked up a bow for the first time about four months before the start of the spring turkey season. Determined to use his bow to harvest a turkey he practiced relentlessly, and as the months passed his groups got tighter and tighter. We explained to him that killing a turkey with a bow was not an easy task because of their tiny kill zones. That meant, his aim needed to be great, not just good, and when the season arrived, he was ready.
Ty and Marshall climbed into the blind late in the afternoon using only a hen decoy. The blind was set up close to where the turkeys roost. At this point in the rut the turkeys had become decoy shy, so Ty decided to use only a hen. About an hour into the hunt the turkeys began arriving. First a few single toms then a big group of hens with several big toms right behind them. The toms saw the decoy and were curious, but didn’t want to leave the rest of the hens. For some time the birds kept a safe distance, just out of shooting range. Then, things started to heat up when a big group of hens spotted the decoy and came in to check it out. They did not like the new breeding competition, and aggressively surrounded the decoy, pecking it and bumping it in a dominant fashion. It was this behavior that convinced two toms to come see what all the commotion was about. Ty told Marshall to get ready. Marshall picked up his bow, his arrow already nocked, and waited for Ty’s direction. The toms strutted into about 16 yards. As one tom started turning sideways Ty had Marshall draw his bow. When the tom was broadside, he told Marshall to shoot as soon as he was ready. Thwack! A perfect shot. The tom dropped. Marshall notched his first ever hunting tag. For Ty, helping a young man, with no hunting experience, accomplish his goal was an indescribable feeling. He felt so much pride in Marshall’s accomplishment and pure joy in getting to be part of his first hunting story.
The experience was so rewarding all the way around that Ty and I took two other new hunters on turkey hunts later that spring. We realized there are plenty of new hunters out there with no one to mentor them, and we love helping them experience the outdoors and find success on the hunt. This hunt was the catalyst to what is now our mission each spring.