Due to my work schedule and Illinois' restriction on turkey hunting after 1 pm, I was limited to weekend hunting only. That first Saturday, I was up well before dawn with my rangefinder in hand and my hunting buddy at my side. We made it to the blind in a respectable time, and after ten minutes, I tested out my first call. "Yerk yerk yerk yerk." One gobbler answered. Then another, and another. Jackpot! I spotted one big tom as he entered the hayfield where I was hunting, on the far end, about 200 yards away. For an hour and a half, I worked this bird, making sounds I hoped resembled a turkey more than the spit-shooting screeches I was prone to produce from time to time. He must have found my calls acceptable, because he continued to blow up and work his way in closer, dragging his hen with him the entire way. Eventually, she split off and bedded down, but he kept coming in. Eighty yards. Sixty. He was in range, but still moving, so I pulled up my big girl britches and made myself wait. Forty. I clipped on my release and shushed my sister, who was just as excited as me. Twenty. I drew back and fired.
That bird flipped in the air just like on all the videos I had watched, feathers blown out the side as proof that yes, I really did make contact. He limped away, but I wasn't worried--didn't that one guy on that one episode have to track his bird an ungodly distance before finding it in a ravine? What I didn't anticipate were the three jakes that came charging in, pushing my wounded bird off into the neighboring field. Crap. I mentally marked the spot where they went, picked up my arrow and feathers, and began looking for my trophy.
Two hours later, I came up empty handed. In my heart, I realized the shot was low, wounding rather than killing, probably due to the new mechanical broadheads that I had to have but didn't have the time to practice with in advance (I know, I know, rookie mistake). However, it was officially the first time I had hit a live animal with my bow and managed to not lose an arrow in the process, so there's always a silver lining. My luck dwindled each successive weekend, calling in birds but never getting as good of a shot as that first one. However, the experience of working so hard for my shot was thrilling, and you can bet I'll be pulling a tag for the fall season. Until we meet again, gobblers.