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I’m a big believer in taking kids to the woods early and often to make sure they’re comfortable outside the world of couches, television and computers. But the reality is that it doesn’t always work out exactly like you hope.
When my oldest, Mary Grace, was about 10 or 11, I decided to take her turkey hunting. She wasn’t exactly excited about the idea, so I sweetened the deal by getting a day off from work and letting her miss school if she would go with me.
That did the trick.
We were living in Tallahassee at the time, so we had an hour or so to talk on the way over to Blountstown. I used that time to explain that we would blow an owl call to locate a gobbler just before daylight. Then we would sneak in, set up our decoy and try to call him in.
“What’s a decoy?” she asked. So, I pulled out my old foam rubber hen and showed it to her.
“That doesn’t look like a turkey,” she said.
“It does to another turkey.”
“No it doesn’t. Other turkeys know exactly what turkeys are supposed to look like. It probably looks less like a turkey to them than it does to anybody.”
Thankfully, we got to the camp before I had to argue with her any more.
Within a few minutes, we heard a couple of turkeys gobbling down by the slough, so we slipped in, got set up and started calling. I was very proud that Mary Grace was staying very quiet, not squirming or talking while we waited.
After about an hour of calling occasionally and listening carefully, I started hearing something that sounded like maybe a turkey was skulking our way. It was very quiet scratching noise, happening at regular intervals, but I couldn’t see anything. Thanks to years of listening to loud music, I also couldn’t tell exactly where the sound was coming from, but it wasn’t going away.
Very carefully, I moved my face mask off my ears and turned my head slowly to isolate the scratching. That’s when I realized why MG had been so still and quiet – she was sound asleep and the scratching noise was her snoring.
For some reason, that struck me as funny and I started laughing hard enough to make the hunting pointless. So I woke her up and we made the long walk back to the camp.
Wiping sleep out of her eyes, her only comment on the way to the truck was, “I told you that thing wouldn’t fool a real turkey.”
So yeah, it’s good to start them early. Just know that when you do it might pan out differently than you expect.