The day began very early for our team as Jesse’s alarm broke the morning silence just after 4 a.m. With a mission and plan on our minds, it was all business inside the log cabin, beginning with throwing a few more logs on the fire and the gas mantle-lights being lit. The consensus was a good night’s rest by all, with no excess rumblings from the bunkmates. It’s logical that trend may change with long days and short nights.
With all the basics available in our quaint little cabin, our breakfast was much like we might prepare at home; egg whites for the adult crew and granola bars for the kids. As we packed a few snacks and the final necessities for the morning hunt, everyone was certainly anxious for what was to come of our first day hunting. Greeted by a star-filled sky, winds near-calm, and temps hovering around freezing, we all were thankful for our extra layers of Kings XKG and our Farm To Feet merino stocks.
The drive to our Xenek blind was quick and full of chatter with a high level of anticipation for the hunt. Brian helped Gus and Lily get their guns ready for the brief walk, while Adam and I carried the balance of the camera and related gear.
As daybreak came and primetime turkey movement passed us by, without any sounds or sightings, we all felt a little deflated. I think we all had visualized a glorious turkey fly-down, and a quick morning kill, yet instead we found ourselves holding out hope for even just one gobble. As the hours passed, we had a very brief encounter with a hen that didn’t stick around long enough for even a photo and then it was time to head back to camp.
There was a little speculation as to why the turkeys did not frequent the plot as they had on regular occasion, documented by our Covert trail cameras. Brian’s best guess was they simply roosted a little further away and they may return for the evening hunt. Our time at the cabin was brief, just enough for a quick bite to eat and an opportunity for Gus and Lily to wet a line in the pond just below our deck.
The Kurtenbach Krew had a morning filled with action, yet just did not get their Elite bows in sync with the Nebraska Toms. Arrows were fired and yet no birds came home on this outing.
Our 2pm afternoon hunt pickup found us heading to a new spot, primarily because the Covert intel offered a high level of activity on a grass meadow not far from camp. We were back in blind-setup mode and ready for the evening sit. Lily was first in line to set her sights on a Tom. The waiting game began.
A few minutes before 4 p.m., a Tom and three hens entered our field, and the blind filled with instant energy. We watched as the hens approached, fed in front of us but the Tom never committed to the same. With some very light calling on my Duel friction call, I was not able to seduce the Tom to our hen and jake decoys, and all four of them left the field. Much to our excitement, two larger Toms walked under the fence and immediately approached us head-on.
Lily was ready with her gun up, on her tripod and waiting for the cue to go to “fire”. Gus was on ready alert with his shotgun, in the hopes we could score a double. As the Toms of very equal stature approached our decoys and blind, everyone was ready. Lily had her sights on both, as the literally walked in tandem, side by side, making it very difficult for her to pick one. With less than 10 steps distance between the turkeys and us, it was time.
What seemed like forever was, in reality, just a long minute; but the Toms being so close to one-another continued to prevent a clean shot. As a comfortable amount of distance was created between the two, I whispered to Lily to go ahead and shoot the one on the left. As the gun fired and the turkey dropped, we all tried to maintain our composure knowing what had just happened, Lily’s first-ever harvest, a Nebraska gobbler.
Hoping we could score a double, Gus jumped into the front shooter position and Lily grabbed his seat. The second Tom gave no thought to pouncing on the bird that lay 6 steps in front of us, but instead retreated for cover. Knowing we had 3 hours yet to hunt, we took a brief amount of time to celebrate and enjoy a few tears with Lily, after accomplishing something she’s been driven to do.
Our cabin was filled with excitement as Lily shared the news and her version of the story with everyone. A few feathers gathered from the scene are now what she uses to remind her of her first harvest, her first Turkey and in many ways her stepping up saying, “I am a hunter dad”.