This past weekend marked the fourth year Georgia has held the “Special Opportunity Season” for turkey. This two-day season gives youth 16 years of age and younger, plus mobility-impaired hunters, the opportunity to get out and hunt the weekend before the statewide Georgia turkey season.
I have had the chance to turkey hunt the first three Special Opportunity Seasons, but this season marked the first year I could hunt it, since I turned 17. That encouraged me this season to find and take a youth who had never killed a turkey. I contacted a close friend by the name of Chad Tidwell. I invited him and his 13-year-old daughter Kalie to come turkey hunting with me on our property in Floyd County.
In preparation of Kalie’s turkey hunt, I took the time to set up a ground blind and run trail cameras across the property. From January all the way to March, I had a tremendous number of turkeys showing on the cameras daily. I had a great feeling about Kalie getting her first turkey.
Finally, March 18 came, and wouldn’t you know it was pouring down rain before daylight. We bit the bullet to get everything in the dry of the ground blind before it got daylight. Since I film hunts, I made sure my camera was positioned, and all we had to do was wait on daylight.
At the break of daylight, the rain stopped, and I heard one gobble in front of us far off. Then we heard another gobble shortly after behind us, but much closer. I only heard a total of three gobbles on the roost, which made me very worried.
At 7:57 a.m., a big longbeard and a jake flew down in front of us into the field. Even though they were more than 300 yards away, I know they could see the three decoys I had set up. The gobbler slowly started strutting our way. While calling lightly, I forgot about the gobbler behind us until he shook the blind when he gobbled just 15 yards away. The longbeard behind us came out to our right, but he was too far to the right to present a shot. The longbeard and jake in front of us caught eye of the bird to our right, and they both started marching in. Both of the birds in the field eventually got to within 20 yards, but the longbeard was moving and Kalie couldn’t get locked on the gobbler’s head for a good shot.
I have personally never heard turkeys fighting before, but now I have. The two longbeards and the jake began fighting like crazy just 15 yards to our right and behind where we could see out of the blind window. Five minutes later, the jake came back out in front of the blind. Chad asked me if we wanted Kalie to go ahead and shoot the jake, and I never hesitated on saying yes. At 22 yards, she put the hammer down on him. If we had stayed put, the two gobblers may have come back out, but I didn’t want to risk it. We all rushed out to Kalie’s first turkey and celebrated.
During the celebration, Chad looked up and saw a longbeard strutting 80 yards away in the field. We got down low to sneak back to the blind. The entire 35 minutes we sat there, we heard turkeys gobbling everywhere. The weather had broken clear by then, and the turkeys were talking. Just 35 minutes after Kalie pulled the trigger on her first-ever turkey, I looked to my left and saw two big longbeards marching to the decoys. I told Kalie to get ready. As soon as they came into her view, she smoked the biggest gobbler. Astonished, we rushed out to the big bird. Hugging and celebrating, I could not believe all that had happened during the special Georgia turkey hunt. It’s a true blessing to kill your first turkey, but to turn right around 35 minutes later and kill a trophy longbeard, there’s nothing more special.
I’m only 17 years old, but I know the importance of keeping the youth in the outdoors. Nothing makes me happier than seeing youngsters hunting. I have never seen Chad and Kalie so happy. To get the entire hunt on video was just icing on the cake, truly an unforgettable hunt for all of us.
Here’s the YouTube link to the hunt: https://youtu.be/CJ_CBMjCT2w