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Cookbook Author Goes on Her First Turkey Hunt

We all know the truism about give a man a fish versus teach a man to fish. This concept correlates to children and hunting, but it’s a win-win for the teacher as well. Teach a child to hunt and he will hunt with you for a lifetime. Our outdoor pursuits keep my family close. My most memorable example of this was Mother’s Day 2018.

Four of our 5 kids made it home for the weekend. Actually, this was the ultimate gift. It’s not always easy to get everyone together now that they’re grown and pursuing their own lives. My youngest son, Garrett, is an avid turkey hunter. (Is there any other kind?) His gift to me was guiding me on my first turkey hunt. 

Vicky Mullaney Cookbook Author turkey on back

First Turkey Hunt

Sunday morning, we got up before dawn and put on our camouflage clothing and tall Lacrosse boots treated with Permethrin to repel ticks. We drove to the other side of our farm to set up in the woods beyond the soy bean field where, based on his earlier scouting, he knew the gobblers roosted. My guide went over his ground rules on the short drive. He stressed the importance of being stealthy: no talking, no rustling through the underbrush and no moving once we were set up. “No problem, Son. I understand.” He parked the truck along a berm about ¼ mile from where we planned to set up. Determined to make less noise than Garrett, I snuck out of the truck and gently pressed the door closed. As we walked toward the woods Garrett accidentally set off the truck alarm! The best laid plans … right? 

Turkey Hunt Gear

Carrying my brand new Browning A5 that my husband gave me in February for my birthday and my Avian X Jake and hen, we hiked into the pine forest. I set up against a large oak tree 20 yards from our decoys and ignited my ThermaCELL. If you hunt in mosquito-infested areas, this is a game changer. I like to think I’m tough, but I draw the line with mosquitos and sometimes they’re fierce on the marsh and in the woods along the shores of Chesapeake Bay tributaries. 

Garrett sat against a large pine tree 6 feet from me and we listened for gobbles. Hearing nothing, he began to gobble intermittently using his diaphragm call. His gobbles were unanswered. After sitting in silence for an hour, we decided to try our luck walking an old logging trail and calling into the woods. There was no answer to our calls. We were willing to stick it out for a little longer, but the rest of the family called and insisted that we come in to go out for a Mother’s Day breakfast.

Turkey feathers

Location, location, location

With full stomachs and a new determination, we returned to the same area just before noon. We set up in the tree line along the east side of our sand road, which allowed better visibility to the open fields on this side of the woods. Garrett began calling, adding some clucks to his repertoire. We heard some distant gobbles back toward the main road and on the east side of the road, the side we were sitting on. We left our decoys, crossing over to the west side of the sand road and began a circuitous hike through the dense woods to evade possible detection. We gave a wide berth to the area where we heard the gobble. In essence, we were making a big arc around the suspected turkey, bringing us up to the road undetected. Staying low, we crossed back to the east side of the road and crouched down into the ditch beside the treelined berm. He was right there – standing in the soy bean field, looking into the trees! We froze, not moving or making a sound until he turned his back to us and began walking toward the center of the field. 

Vicky Mullaney Cookbook Author

Turkey Time

That was our cue. We slowly made our way through the trees and onto the edge of the field. With face masks pulled up, we kneeled down against trees and Garrett began with some soft yelping and clucks to turn him back toward us and draw him in. He did turn! He walked toward us. My heart raced. He cautiously continued to walk in our direction. When he was 25 yards from our spot, Garrett told me to take him. I mounted my virgin A5, switched off my safety, aimed and squeezed the trigger. He went down! I was elated as Garrett retrieved the bird and gave me a big hug. 

After a photo shoot with our prize and high 5’s from the rest of the family, my daughter informed me that her present to me was a facial at the Chesapeake Hyatt’s Sago Spa. I include this detail because it shows that women can have it all. 

The day just kept getting better. I returned home with fully hydrated and glowing skin to find that my wonderful son had cleaned the turkey – saving the spurs, beard, and best feathers – and helped his father and brothers launch the boat for an evening of striper fishing. The 6 of us watched an incredible sunset as we enjoyed the active striper bite.

smoked turkey breast Recipe

Turkey Breast Recipe

We are already reminiscing about last year’s epoch day and talking strategy for May 12. Garrett loves my smoked turkey breast and knows that no matter who shoots the bird, he’ll get to keep the lion’s share of this delicious meat. I’d love to share my Smoked Turkey Breast recipe. Check under the “Recipe” tab at  www.lodgeatblackpearlcookbook.com.

Vicky Mullaney Small headshot-2

Vicky Mullaney, author of The Lodge at Black Pearl Cookbook – Raising and Feeding a Hunting Family, is a mother, chef, huntress and angler. She loves to share her family’s story and her recipes in hopes of encouraging women and their families to venture outside and enjoy the endless benefits that living an outdoor lifestyle provides.


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