This week, Braden shot his first turkey — and what a turkey it was!
“Grandpa (Marty Reddick), Braden and I had kicked around the idea of not going hunting last Saturday with the chance of rain coming in,” said Braden’s father, Andy. “But, banking on the aged-old idea that turkeys hate being in the timber when it rains and prefer open areas, we headed up north to Ozawkie. We were decked out in rain gear to hunt one of our favorite deer-hunting blinds, since it was covered and placed in a little corner of a field surrounded by timber.”
Andy Reddick said they had settled into the blind around 6 a.m. and quickly had toms talking to them from the trees.
“About the time they would have flown down and started their ground talk, the rain moved in,” he said. “Between the turkeys not talking much, and the loud sound of the rain on the tin roof of our blind, we weren’t able to hear any turkey talk.
“We still had faith in our spot and shot out some calls from our slates from time to time, just to keep them interested if any birds were close.”
He said that a hen walked into the decoys around 8 a.m. She pecked around at the ground for a while, but soon got nervous and seemed to be staring them down in the blind. They sat dead still for five to 10 minutes before realizing she was actually watching behind them.
“Unknown to us, due to the rain and silence of the birds, a big tom was quickly approaching behind our blind,” Andy said. “By the time he showed himself, he was less than 10 yards in front of us, locked on and all but running to the hen in our decoys.
“Knowing he would not stop to strut, gobble, or even give us the time of day, I told Braden if he could get a clean shot on his head, to take it.”
And boy, did he.
“Fifteen yards, ol’ Mr. Tom raised his head just enough in a half strut/half run, Braden squeezed off an amazing shot and filled his head with 20 gauge #5′s,” Andy recalled. “Down he went, and out shot the loud cheers from all three generations in the blind.”
The bird was gorgeous — a 25-pounder with 1-inch spurs and two beards. Andy said the combined length of the two beards was well over 17 inches, as the main beard was 10 7/8-inches and the second was 6 15/16 inches. The tom scored at 81.1 points.
Andy said that God has blessed him with two of the best hunting buddies he could ask for — and they just so happen to share his last name.
“It is an amazing feeling hunting with the man who taught you everything sitting on your left, and the boy you hope to pass it all onto sitting on your right,” he said. “And to see your son slam a 25-pound, double-bearded tom makes it all the sweeter!”
Apparently, these big birds are pretty well known around the neighborhood.
“Those turkeys you saw at the Shunga Creek frequently leave the park, often enticed by the bird seed in people’s yards,” said Robin Hannigan, who lives on S.W. Plass.
She submitted three photographs of several turkeys in her front yard, along with another critter.
“These are some of my favorite photos because our neighbor’s cat is hanging with them,” she said.
Those photos gave me a good chuckle. It’s always interesting to see how animals have adapted to living alongside humans. Now I know, next time I want to go turkey hunting, all I need is a handful of bird seed to bring them in.