Passing on our bowhunting heritage is something my husband and I have become passionate about in recent years. As the 2018 spring seasons drew closer, Ty and I decided spring turkey is a perfect time to get new hunters their first harvest.
As fate would have it, the week of the turkey season opener my husband was granted access to a property loaded with turkeys. The landowner told us the turkeys were damaging several of the yards in the area and he would like to thin the population a bit. We thanked him for the opportunity and told him we’d return the next day bows in hand, thus beginning what we would call our urban spring turkey hunt. We made a quick scouting trip to the property, found where the turkeys were roosting and set up our blind.
The next afternoon Ty and I set up our Avian decoys and climbed into the blind around 3:30 p.m. For a few hours we watched hens wander through the property and listened to gobbles in the distance. Then right around 5 p.m. things started to pick up. Several toms appeared on the far end of the property near the tree line. I was the first hunter up, so Ty hit the slate call, while I nocked an arrow. My heart was racing as it always is when I prepare to harvest an animal. The toms were all fired up, strutting and gobbling just 70 yards away. A hen started clucking in the distance. The toms gobbled in response and Ty quickly mimicked her. That was all it took. The three toms looked our way, saw the decoys and came in on a run! I drew back, anchored and put my top pin on one of the big toms. Thwack! The turkey dropped on the spot. The others took off, but didn’t go far. Ty to gave me the camera and grabbed his bow. We quickly switched places just in time for the toms to come running back in to attack the downed bird. Thwack! In a matter of minutes Ty and I had filled our spring turkey tags. An Oregon double to kick off the season. We knew this was the perfect spot to bring new hunters.
A week later Ty was back in the ground blind, but this time he had our friend’s 12-year-old son Marshal with him. Marshal picked up a bow for the first time just a few months earlier. He doesn’t come from a bowhunting family, so Ty and I jumped at the chance to help him out. Marshal had spent many hours practicing with his new bow, determined to be good enough to shoot a turkey with it. We showed him what his groups should look like in order to make an ethical shot and where he should place his arrow when the moment of truth arrived.
Around 4 p.m. Marshal and Ty climbed into the ground blind. Then, just like the week before the turkeys started arriving about an hour later. Ty had Marshal nock an arrow. More than half a dozen hens came into the decoys all puffed up and surrounded the hen. They were pecking it and chest bumping it while clucking and purring. When a nearby tom saw the commotion he came in to check it out. When the tom cleared the hens Ty signaled to Marshal to draw his bow. The tom turned and Ty told him to shoot. Thwack! The turkey ran 15 yards and fell over. Marshal was officially a bowhunter!
The following week Ty took our friend James on his first turkey hunt. James was also a new bowhunter looking to make his first harvest. Like many entering the industry these days James doesn’t have any family members that can mentor him. Ty was excited to help him out. Once again James went home with his first harvest later that evening.
Passing on our bowhunting heritage is important to ensure it’s around for future generations to enjoy. My husband bought me a bow ten years ago and I never would’ve guessed the joy, self-confidence, friendships and love it was going to bring into my life. If we can do that for even just one other person a year, we feel as though we are giving them an incredible gift.