Remington Outdoor Company invited Grace and her mother to participate in a youth turkey hunt for Osceolas in Florida this month. Grace wrote her story of the hunt and shared it with us. Congrats, and great job, Grace!
My name is Grace, I’m 12 years old, and I’m a hunter. It seems like I waited a long time to say that – I asked my mom a lot to take me hunting with her – and I got my chance this spring in Florida. I didn’t get much warning; only a couple weeks before the hunt my mom told me I was going hunting with her, finally. The invitation came from Remington Outdoor Company, well, it really came from Jessica at Remington.
Florida has the earliest spring turkey season in the country, and Jessica wanted to have a youth hunt at Osceola Outdoors in Okeechobee, Fla. There would be 4 adults and 4 kids; 2 dads with their sons and 2 moms with their daughters. I’d never met any of them, but my mom had and she said I’d have a good time.
I was so excited! As soon as I could I started packing, and I practicing calling turkeys, too. I tried a box call, a wingbone call – my mom said it was a yelper – and diaphragm calls. When it was time to pack, I took all the calls with me, and my mom packed our camo and her vest. The morning of the trip we had to be up early and we got our bags and headed for the airport. I was so excited I was practically bouncing off the walls.
At the airport my mom and I got Starbucks, and the line was really long. Before long we were on the plane and on our way. I’ve been to a few states, but not Florida. When we arrived we met Jessica and her daughter, Hannah, and started driving to the place we’d be hunting. On the way we stopped at the store for food for our cabin and Hannah and I also got a football, soccer ball, and volleyball, plus some other things to play with when we weren’t hunting. Mom and Jessica got new Florida hunting licenses; those licenses covered us, too. I found a baseball hat I had to have that said “Beard Busting” that had a pocket for diaphragm calls on the bill, and mom said I might have to share it with her.
Finally, we got to the cabin and started to settle in. While our moms were inside unpacking and talking, Hannah and I went outside to play soccer, and we met the 2 boys. Both their names were Jack. After awhile we went to dinner and played on a claw machine – Hannah and I each got a toy before the trip ended – and then it was time to get some sleep before the hunt.
The next morning the 2 Jacks went hunting while Hannah and I went shooting. We had the Remington 870s we’d use hunting, and we practiced with turkey loads on paper targets of turkey heads. It was a lot of fun; I’ve always liked shooting. My mom started teaching me about guns and being safe when I was little and I started shooting when I was 8. After the shotguns my mom talked me into trying a .223, and I loved it – now I want one of my own. She had a .308, too, and I know she really likes those for hunting, but I didn’t want to try it.
At the end of target practice I asked Jason, who was a guide with Osceola Outdoors and had come to help us, if he had anything I could shoot besides paper. He found an empty can in his truck, set it on top of a post, and had me move back 25 yards. I was a little nervous, but my first shot hit it and knocked it right off the post. By then we were all hungry, so we left for lunch. While we’d been practicing, one of the Jacks – Chris Ellis’s son – got a bearded tom with nice spurs, and it made me more excited to get out myself.
After lunch we went hunting. My mom went with me and so did a guide, Anthony. Once the blind and decoys were set up it was time to wait. We didn’t hear anything or see anything, and that made us all sad. But Mom said we’d just try again.
The next morning we went out at 4:30 a.m. again and drove out with Anthony. After awhile, he stopped and we got our gear to carry the rest of the way. While we were walking, Anthony stopped, and my mom stopped, because there was a turkey up ahead in a tree. Anthony called it once and it answered right away. So we set up the blind as quietly as we could and sat down. He called it more and at first the turkey answered but then it got quiet; I guess they’d left the tree and gone silent, and that’s normal for Osceolas.
We sat for hours, Anthony calling and me trying my box call. After hours my mom saw hens looking around the corner, and then they came walking out. There was a Jake with them, and he was gobbling and drumming. He went straight for the decoys to beat it up. Adrenaline rushed through me and I started shaking, and my mom and Anthony started trying to calm me down. My mom ended up steadying the barrel of my shotgun first by hand and then using the shotgun case. The Jake had been challenging the male decoy and going back and forth, but then he started running away, and I came to my senses and shot him through the head. He flopped around which freaked me out a little, but my mom explained it – that he was dead – and I calmed down. I’d shot my first turkey!
Afterwards we took pictures and went to lunch. Anthony and my mom kept telling the story – I guess the Jake was about 40 yards away and running off, fast, so they said it was a good shot. My mom said I was the first female hunter to shoot a turkey this season, too, and that’s pretty cool.
Then we went back to the cabin and I just wanted to relax in the hammock outside for awhile, because mom said we’d be looking for hogs later. Hannah got a Jake later that day, and we both want to do another hunt together. I’d really like to hunt with Anthony again, too. I had so much fun, and I can’t wait to do it again!