My love for hunting grows more every single day. My love and desire to go out into the woods and explore our beautiful earth is boundless. Turkey season arrived in West Virginia and I realized I had never gone turkey hunting. Larry Case, a retired game warden and hunter extraordinaire, offered to introduce me to the wild world of turkey hunting.
Sponsored by Remington Arms
Before we went out, we needed to make sure I had the right gear. Remington outfitted me with the new Remington V3 Turkey Pro – a semi-auto 12-gauge shotgun. This baby is donned in full camo coverage (Realtree Timber), so it blends in with the woods. It’s got a VersaPort gas system (less recoil and accepts 3-inch shotshells) and it comes with a bore sighted TruGlo optic, which has multiple adjustable red and green brightness levels for whatever background or lighting you’ll be aiming in. Lastly, it comes with a Truglo Headbanger choke. I patterned the gun from 15 to 40 yards. At 20 yards, the Remington V3 and my Nitro-Turkey loads blew a hole straight through the plywood! I even shot some clays with it. Nomad also decked me out in some awesome camo, so I really felt ready for season.
Larry told me I was finally ready to go out into the field. We made a plan to hunt on the first day of youth season. At 5 a.m., on opening day, I got my things ready, and we headed out into the field.
We have a nice place close to the back of my house here in West Virginia that we refer to as a “holler.” This holler is a big valley in the middle of 2 mountains. The sides go straight up; each side leads to a ridge that goes even higher. When we got back there, I felt unleashed in my element, even with a gun over my shoulder. I started to scramble up the side of the hill like a spider on a wall! After climbing for a minute or so, I looked back at Larry. He smiled and said, “Now, this right here is turkey hunting.”
After climbing a bit, Larry stopped to teach me some turkey-hunter wisdom. “Makayla, this is called a locator call.” He then showed me a small, trumpet looking thing on the end of a lanyard. He said, “This mimics a barred owl call, and the turkeys will respond to it when they hear it. Watch.“ He took the call and blew into it, making a real funny sound; it sounded like an elephant trying to talk like a person. When we listened, we heard no answer – but, dozens of woodpeckers in the trees answered back. He said, “Did you hear that? A barred owl call sounds like someone saying, ‘Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all?’” I laughed and told him how cool I thought that was! I had never heard a barred owl in real life, so just hearing the call seemed interesting to me.
We headed up the mountain a bit more, and we finally made it to the top on a nice knob looking over some of the Monongahela Forest. We took a break there and Larry took out a box call. I watched Larry closely and tried to mimic the sound in my head. We heard a hen cluck! In my head, when you hear a hen, hens mean more hens, and more hens mean gobblers! But, when Larry called again, she never answered back. We spent the rest of the morning trying to locate that hen. Even though we didn’t see one, I didn’t see the hunt as a failure. I saw it as another adventure.
After a few unsuccessful days on my family’s farm, Larry called Appalachian Outdoor Addicts for help. I felt absolutely ecstatic to go somewhere new to hunt.
Now, here is when an adventure starts. We started out the morning at 3:30 a.m., which is to some people an insane time to get up to chase our feathery friends, but I didn’t care. I wanted to get a turkey, whatever it took. Larry and I drove down to Peterstown, West Virginia, and met Connor Boothe and Parker King. They told us that they would get us on a turkey, and we followed them through beautiful land. We got out very cautiously in the pitch dark and started heading toward the mountains.
Now, walking through the briars and bushes, trying to keep up with Connor and Parker would usually be rough, lugging my gun and scope through briars, branches and other rough terrain. Luckily, the Remington V3 Turkey Pro felt light enough to not be a job to carry, and tough enough to take the beatin’ I put it through. Plus, that scope, even without the lens covers, performed well even after being rained on, drug through tree branches and sometimes even turned on for hours at a time.
As we walked, Connor and Parker stopped a few times to call together. Once when we stopped and called, we heard what sounded like dozens of gobbles back! It was the first time I had ever heard gobblers in the woods – and talk about an adrenalin rush. I shook and it felt like my heart beat at 100 miles an hour.
We stayed at this spot for a bit, trying to get the turkeys out of their hiding spots, but to no avail. They just did not want to move. We decided to travel a bit farther before calling again, to see if we could get any closer. As we walked through lush woods, I heard Parker tell us, “Look, it’s a miracle!”
I looked around, wondering “What? Is there a turkey? Where?” But it was no turkey… it was an easier delicacy to find. He held up a small morel mushroom, an Appalachian delicacy. I had never tried morels before! He told me, “Around here, we call these miracles. There’s dozens of these around here. Feel free to pick some if you want.” I spent the next 30 minutes hiking, picking these mushrooms and shoving them in my bag by the dozen. I couldn’t wait to take them home to try them.
We hiked up to a nice place to look around. Even though we hadn’t heard a gobbler for a little bit, we enjoyed telling stories.
We started hearing gobblers again. I felt as anxious as a bird dog. As we walked, I still kept my eyes to the ground. So far I had found morels, violets, a snake and even a huge bumblebee millipede. Then, I saw something off-white, peeking out from the underbrush. When I stopped to check it out, I picked up a nearly perfect coyote skull, along with a deer skull right beside it. Larry helped shove them in my vest pocket and he even helped me carry the rest.
We woke up the next morning, and I just had a good feeling deep in my heart. Everyone kind of lagged throughout the morning, and while I felt tired, I remained determined. When we arrived at Larry’s house that morning, his dog, Callie, looked at us like, “Why would you get me up this early?”
We arrived at the Appalachian Outdoor Addicts farm and I slung my Remington V3 on my back once more. I came ready to harvest a sneaky bird with it.
We hiked into the woods yet again. Connor and Parker told me today, we would go sit at the edge of the field for a while just to see what we could find. I agreed and we found a nice spot to sit and watch the sun come above the mountains. As we sat and listened to the hundreds of songbirds in the trees start to wake up, I couldn’t help but to realize how beautiful this world really is. The view looked straight out of a painting, and I knew it was artwork of our awesome God.
Just about an hour in, Connor and Parker started to call. I could hear them whisper to each other “Hey, let’s get in a fight!” And they would cluck back and forth to one another like a couple of sassy hens. I smiled at this, and all the sudden I heard a few clucks right behind us. We all stopped our stirring. I heard a few footsteps come up just a few feet behind me. The Jake stopped in his tracks and gobbled. I froze and silently readied my gun. I heard him march on up right beside me, clucking and raising Caine only about 10 feet away. He had come up right beside of me in pursuit of the hen. But, when he realized there was no hen, he knew something was up. He started into a sprint, and when I saw a beard, I knew I had to take my chance. I swung around and in what seemed like a millisecond, I fired at the running gobbler. He stopped dead in his tracks and flopped around once before silently resting. The Remington V3 Turkey Pro in 12 gauge and Nitro Turkey Loads did its job. After making sure my gun was unloaded and safe, I passed it to Larry and yelled, “Yes! Finally! Yay!”
Deep inside, even with all the excitement, I felt a sense of nostalgia and tradition. I now will be able to hang up my turkey fan, alongside the ones from my older brothers and sisters. I became part of that “group.” I felt a link from one decade to another… and I felt proud. I can’t wait to give my kids this experience in the future, too, and see the excitement in their eyes when they get their first turkeys. For me, it represents way more than taking an animal; it’s the protection of a legacy.
When I went out to grab the bird, I held it up proudly and smiled from ear to ear! Larry, Connor and Parker were absolutely ecstatic too, all hugging me and congratulating me. I feel honored to enter the Turkey Hunter Fold!
I remember, when Larry and I went to get lunch that evening, I was talking to an older man about the hunt. He told me “Girl, that’s something you will never forget the rest of your life.” And, he is right. The entire experience – the mountain climbing, learning about calls and turkeys, the morels and bones and everything in between … all of that is stuff that will stick with me forever. I feel so extremely blessed to be able to enjoy the world God has given us. I can’t wait to tell everyone about more adventures.