Thursday, March 31, 2011

Through a Child's Eyes

North Carolina offers youth days for hunting some species each season.  It gives the youth a chance to go out and have an adult guide them through a hunt, allowing only the child to take a shot.  April 2 is youth day for turkey.  Bearing that in mind, I feel obligated to share a story a new friend, Chase Shepherd shared with me.
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I closed my eyes while my dad smeared camouflage face paint on my forehead.  “Just hold still.  We’re almost done,”  he whispered.  I was ready for the hunt to begin.  I loaded my gun, strapped on the gun rest, and put on my hat.  "Got everything?" Dad whispered.
"Yeah," I replied, while I too, was in a whisper.
We started walking back to the area my dad picked to hunt.   "Today’s the day you’re killin’ a turkey," Dad whispered.
"I hope so" I whispered back.
My dad stopped about five minutes later and whispered, “Go sit at that tree, I’m gonna’ set up the decoys."
"Okay," I replied.

I did my best walking over, trying not to make any noise.  I finally stopped at the tree and watched my dad set up the last decoy.  It was still dark out so we had enough time to sit down and get comfortable.
Dad sat down first, and then I sat down in between his legs.  He set his gun up against the tree and then instructed me to practice aiming on the decoys.

The sun just started to rise, and all I heard was gobbling.  It was crazy!  Then my dad started calling.  He did some average hen calls, and that’s when he whispered, “Don’t move!”   My mind started racing!  Is this really going to happen?  Is it a big one?  Am I ready?  I started to shake as I glanced over.  It was a big tom, beard dragging the ground, walking back and forth.  “Don’t move,” Dad whispered again.
Then the turkey heard a hen across the creek behind us, and never came in.  I was devastated.  When all of the sudden, “Here comes two more!" Dad whispered.  It wasn’t over yet.  My heart started pounding once again.  The two turkeys were running to us!  I gripped the cold metal of my gun.  Then they jumped up, and started attacking our decoy, they were flying in the air, and hitting it with their spurs.
I pulled the trigger, but not hard enough.  Since the gun didn’t fire I had to wait for another open shot.
Finally the time came.  One of the turkeys stopped, and stared right at us.  This time I squeezed the trigger, and the turkey dropped.  My dad shot at the other turkey, but it was flying and he missed.
We stood up and started high-fiving and fist-bumping.

Chase Shepherd with his first turkey.
"You smoked him buddy!" Dad exclaimed.
Then we walked over to claim my trophy.  When we got there we exchanged high-fives again.  "You killing a turkey means more to me than me killing one," Dad said.
When we got back to the truck, we started to take pictures.  Some were with Dad’s cell phone and others with the digital camera.
That was the greatest day of my life.  It was exciting, fun, and most of adrenaline rush.
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I believe Chase gives us an inside look at how a child feels sharing the outdoors with his parent.  It is a memory that will last long after his dad can no longer go out in the fields, yet it is also a memory he will surely share with his kids in the future.  I am also sure if you asked Chase’s dad about that day, he too would agree it was one of the greatest days of his life as well.

Bill Howard is a Hunter Education and Bowhunter Education Instructor , a Wildlife Representative and BCRS Program Chairman for the North Carolina Bowhunters Association, and an avid outdoorsman.  Please forward any pictures or stories you would like shared to

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