“That made the whole trip worth it right there,” Matt Howard announced climbing to his feet.
Looking 10 yards back at Brad Gill, who had been doing the turkey calling, Matt couldn’t have been more proud of his 11-year-old daughter, Sarah.
“What happened?” Brad asked.
“They didn’t stop, and she just didn’t shoot,” said Matt.
Phil Dockery, the host for the GONetwork’s SEEDS hunt, was positioned behind Brad but was now in a trot down the hill to Sarah as she sat against a pine with the 20 gauge still propped on her knee. Smiling, he gave her a high five.
“I’m proud of you!” Phil said.
Fifteen minutes had passed since the four hunters decked in head-to-toe camo first heard a pair of gobblers 300 yards off a powerline. After setting up, Brad yelped on the chalked-up box call.
Minutes later Sarah was getting an eyeful on an adjacent ridge — one of the birds was strutting, and they were both gobbling. One yelp on a mouth call, and the 2-year-old longbeards were headed for the gun.
In a flash both gobblers peeked over a small dip on the ridge 20 yards from an excited young hunter. They didn’t look long… maybe a second. They knew something wasn’t right.
“Sarah’s never had a bird in gun range before,” Matt said later.
Both birds put a nervous step in their walk and were quickly down the hill, out of gun range and putting every step. Sarah never felt right about her shot, so she didn’t shoot.
“I told her to shoot twice,” Matt grinned. “They were right there.”
Standing around after the show laughing, the three adult hunters were impressed at Sarah’s willingness to wait for a shot she felt would kill a turkey. All agreed, it was a notable trait that deserved merit.
“I was very, very impressed with the way she handled that situation,” said Phil. “The shot was too quick for her, so she didn’t shoot. Great job.”
Sarah was hunting in Taylor County just west of Butler. The land is leased by Phil Dockery, who doesn’t turkey hunt.
However, his club has a bunch of turkeys. Phil thought it may be a good place for a kid to hunt unpressured birds. He donated a hunt to the Growin’ Sportsmen Giveaway program under SEEDS.
Each month GONetwork randomly picks the name of a 10- to 17-year-old SEEDS member. That winner wins a dream hunting or fishing trip, and they pick their own trip from a Dream Trip Menu. Sarah was April’s Growin’ Sportsmen Giveaway winner.
One of the concepts behind the GONetwork is to get sportsmen networking with kids. Like Phil, maybe you want to donate a hunt. Do you have something you’d be willing to offer up as a dream trip? Trips can range from weekend deer hunts to crappie fishing on Clarks Hill. The goal is just to get these kids outside. Call (800) 438-4663 if you’d like to talk with someone about that.
In other kids hunting new, Lauren Street killed her first bird. Below is a letter she sent to GONetwork.
Dear Georgia Outdoor Network,
Thank you for allowing me to go on my first turkey hunt in Georgia. I was lucky enough to be selected for the SEEDS program in which I won a guided turkey hunt with Knight and Hale Pro Staff Team member Kerry Terrell. It was an experience that I will never forget.
We had a great weekend. Over the three days, we saw 31 gobblers. On the first day of the hunt we had eight jakes come in, but I decided to wait for a longbeard. The weather was really bad most of the day, and we didn’t hear any turkeys gobbling.
The second morning was awesome. The weather was perfect. At 7 a.m. an owl started hooting, and we had two turkeys gobbling in front of us. We set the decoys out, and Mr. Terrell started calling. As soon as Mr. Terrell made the first yelp, two turkeys behind us started gobbling. We had to move quick to get the decoys moved and in the right location. Turkeys were gobbling all around us. At 7:30 a.m. I spotted five gobblers coming toward our decoys. I slowly raised my shotgun and waited for them to get close enough to shoot. At 7:45 a.m. the first turkey came close enough to take. I aimed at the lead turkey and remembered what Mr. Terrell had told me when we were practicing shooting. He had told me to constantly say to myself, “bead on target, bead on target.” And that is what I did. I aimed, put the bead on the target, and harvested my first turkey.
It was an awesome experience. My dad and my grandpa were with us as well.
I want to especially thank Kerry Terrell and his wife Angela for taking time out of their busy schedule to take me hunting. I will never forget this weekend. I also want to thank Mr. H.G. Yeomans with Yeomans Wood and Timber, his wife Carroll, and their family for their hospitality, as they let me hunt and stay with them.
Thank you again to the GONetwork for all they did to make my first turkey hunt a life-long memory.
Miss Lauren Nicole Street
11 years old