This was my first season of turkey hunting. Well, any kind of hunting, really. I’ve been elk, antelope and whitetail hunting with my boyfriend, but I never actively participated. It was always more like camping to me.
I had tons of butterflies in my stomach the night before. My alarm was set for 3:30 am (way earlier than I have ever woken up for fishing). We layered up our camo, loaded up the truck with our gear, and headed east. We were lucky enough to get access and permission to hunt a small piece of private land along the river bottom of the Arkansas River. After a short drive we arrived at our “home base location,” gathered everything up and started hiking in to were we would set up. I was going to try to bag my first turkey.
The toms speak up
After we were all set up and situated, we still had about 40 minutes before the sun came up. I could see the turkeys still up in their roost for the night, and I didn’t have to wait long before they started gobbling and yelping. I had never heard a wild turkey gobble like that so close, so it was an amazing and unforgettable experience. After about 20 minutes of listening to them, I watched them start to fly down from their roost. I was getting more and more excited after watching nearly 30 wild turkeys fly down and in our area.
We could see at least three big toms and ten or more jakes. They started heading out away from us, but with our decoys and great calling from my boyfriend, they became interested and headed back our direction. It took them another five minutes (seemed like another hour) to mosey along our way, and get within my shooting range. I raised my shotgun, found a jake, took a breath and pulled the trigger.
BANG! My first turkey down! I will never forget that day!
– By Lindsay Smith
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Alligator hunting trip
It was a very warm day in the swamp of south Arkansas. We loaded up the boat and truck and waited for nightfall. As the sun went down, the team and I set out for an alligator hunting adventure we will never forget as long as we live.
We backed the boat into the lily pad infested water and began the search for an incredible species. We passed up multiple nice-sized gators because greed drove us to chase a trophy. As we slowly motored through the lily pads, we spotted a giant. I will never forget the first time we shined the light and saw the red dots floating on top of the water. We cut off the outboard motor, started the trolling motor, and began the stalk! My heart started throbbing as we inched closer and closer. We were just 15 feet away when he slowly faded away under the murky water. Our hearts sank. We were just seconds away from fighting one of the biggest creatures we had ever seen!
We continued scanning across the surface when he popped back up! The stalk was on for a second round! We trolled after him for what seemed like forever. As soon as we were close enough, we stuck him with the first harpoon. We hung on for dear life as the gator took us everywhere across the bayou. The gator wasn’t tired yet, so we stuck him with two more harpoons to seal the deal. Now that we had the beast worn down, we slipped a noose around its neck. We grabbed the shotgun and put one in the chamber. With the squeeze of the trigger, we had ourselves a gator that wouldn’t even fit in the boat with us and had punched the tag of this magnificent creature! We soon realized, with only half of the beast in the boat, that this thing was even bigger than we thought. As soon as we reached land, we heaved the gator out and stretched him as far as we could. When the tape measure hit 12′ 4″, we realized we had an N1 Moment to remember for as long as we live!
– By Hunter Mueller
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It’s in the blood
Hunting is a deep tradition that my father started with me. When my son was born, I hoped that he would have the same passion I did for the outdoors. It didn’t take long to figure out that his passion may be stronger than mine. At age 3, he started going on hunts with me and immediately loved it. The first few trips were short. He, spent more time playing and eating snacks, but always asked questions about hunting.
First Deer: 6 years, 6 points
On an October afternoon in 2014, at the age of 6, his passion came to the forefront when he shot his first deer. It was a 6-point that came into a food plot. I whispered in his ear all the things I had taught him as he prepared to take the shot. He looked up with a nervous look and said, “when he turns like you told me I’m going to shoot him.” At 50 yards, the buck turned broadside and my son settled in and took the shot. Before I could even process what had happened, he was running out of the blind screaming with excitement about shooting his first deer.
I couldn’t quit smiling, and I was crying at the same time. It was the smile on his face and the excitement in his eyes. It was the way he told the story over and over to everyone we called that assured me his love for the outdoors was far greater than I ever anticipated it would be. He has since taken a doe and has caught numerous fish, but that day will forever be etched in his memory, as well as mine.
– By Kevin Cantell
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