Sometimes, the story that comes out of a hunt is every bit as good as the hunt itself.
Larry Shipman and his 17-year-old grandson, Kaleb, had one of those hunts recently on the opening day of the youth turkey season. The pair was hunting in Osage County with Shipman’s older grandson Austin, who’s 22 years old and had been wanting to take Kaleb youth hunting the past couple of years.
“I took two steps in there and I said, ‘Guys, I’m not going to go across that field,’ ” Shipman said. “We were sinking in knee deep and I had rubber boots on.”
So they worked around the field to a spot that Austin knew of where they could cross the creek at low water.
“We got set up and heard a lot of gobbles, but nothing was really coming to the call,” Shipman said. “They were all with hens. Pretty soon, to my right was a hillside and I hear one doing the putt like something excited him and I thought, ‘What the hell? He can’t see where we are!’ It was about that time one coyote came around the corner. Eventually there were five coyotes in front of us.
“It’s amazing to me that turkeys, coyotes and I think all animals, they have a GPS that they know exactly where that call is coming from, and the one all of a sudden just started running toward me. Kaleb said, ‘It was about four feet away when you jumped up and stuck your hands out in the air and yelled,’ and he went out there about 20 feet and stood and thought ‘What was that?’ ”
The coyotes eventually moved on, and pretty soon the turkey that had been putting on the hill came down and began gobbling when Shipman hit the call.
“He’d take one step forward and two steps back,” Shipman said. “Pretty soon, four hens walked by and he followed those hens. Then, all of a sudden, here comes one across the field and he’s coming at a pretty high rate of speed right at me. Kaleb had to wait until he was between two trees where he could shoot, and he shot him.”
That was about 7:45 a.m. Shipman said they walked out “the long way” — Kaleb asked him at one point if they’d bitten off more than they could chew — before stopping down at another spot on the way back that he had some good information on.
“The guy was there and he said, ‘Did you want to use the Gator and go up there on the hill?’ And Kaleb said, ‘Well, it’s pasture so we’ll walk,’ ” Shipman said. “Well, he said, if you shoot one up there you can come back and get the Gator, I’ll leave the keys in there. We sat there for about 30 minutes and called and didn’t see anything.
“I said, ‘Kaleb, I gotta get up and go pee,’ so I just start raising up and behind us — it was pasture but there were some cedar trees — I could see a fan by them cedar trees.”
Shipman told his grandson, “Get ready to your left, because he’s going to come through there somewhere,” and when he blew the call the tom started to gobble.
“We couldn’t see the body, we could see the head, and he’d stick it through the barb wire and gobble,” Shipman said. “Kaleb said, ‘Do you think he’s going to come through the barbed wire?’ I said, ‘No, I think he’s probably going to get spooked here in a minute.’ So he stuck his head through there again to gobble and Kaleb blasted him. And I told him, ‘Now YOU get to go through the barbed wire fence.’ ”
Shipman said they were back home by 11 a.m. with two turkeys — one with an 11 1//2-inch beard and one with a 10 1/2-inch beard. Both had 1 1/8-inch spurs. He said one of the turkeys weighed almost 24 pounds and the other was almost 23.
“I said, ‘Do you want me to go back and get the Gator?’ I’ve always teased him that whatever you shoot, you gotta carry, but I usually carry it out anyway,” Shipman recalled. “He said, ‘Nope! I’m a new man, it’s a new year, and I’m carrying it out!’ So he gave me his shotgun and he carried it out to the truck.”
YOUTH TURKEY HUNT A BIG SUCCESS: In other youth turkey-hunting action, boys and girls ages 11-16 hit the woods April 1 in Council Grove to seek out their own longbeards for the annual Youth Spring Turkey Hunt.
Twelve boys and two girls participated, with three youths harvesting a wild turkey (two of whom had never bagged a turkey before). Nine of the hunters were first-timers, and all of the participants either saw or heard a turkey during the hunt.
Volunteers interested in helping with next year’s youth hunts can contact Brent Konen, the Council Grove Wildlife Area manager, at (620) 767-5900.