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"YES Sir?!!!", I yelled as I slung my cherry bomb slate-call and striker while jumping up and out of my turkey vest. I turned to my camera-man Coltin Hampton, who is my son and only 13 years old. And then I preceded to go nuts! We had been sitting in the same spot for 4 hours before the gobbler finally made his appearance. I was completely consumed with so much excitement, that it would have made Steve Coon, or "Coon Dog"as he is better known, say WOOOOW! (He is well known for being very emotional on his hunts). I guess you would have to understand all the circumstances to know about all the built up emotions that just exploded after the moment of truth.

Growing up, not only did I not ever turkey hunt, but I didn't even know of anyone that did. It was not until about seven years ago that a buddy of mine, Ted Gray, took me turkey hunting for the first time. That hunt lasted all of about 10 minutes and I ended up taking what is still my best turkey to date. To say I was hooked is an understatement. I've hunted turkeys in six different states since that time, and hunting in my home state of Arkansas has definitely been the most challenging. Our estimated turkey population is extremely low compared to the states that surround us, and the harvest records are following suit.

Waking up on Saturday April 18th, I decided that I would roll the dice. I was going to go hunt a large lease that I had joined, but had spent very little time getting to know the lay of the land. As a matter of fact, I would be a slave to a gobble, and then have to use a G.P.S. to find my way out. The next problem I faced was not having someone to run the camera. And even if I did find somebody, would they be able to hold steady if an opportunity arose?

" Son, wake up", I said at 4:00 a.m. " You wanna go Turkey hunting ?". "Sure", he mumbled, as he slowly but slowly got up and got ready.. I will have to admit it, but I didn't break the news to him that he was not going to be behind the gun until we were crossing the Mississippi River levee, that serves as the western boundary of our lease, which is about 50 miles from the house. To my surprise, when I told him to grab the video camera instead of the gun, he was excited about the challenge!

Running late, as usual, we were excited to here a gobbler sounding off as soon as we got out of the truck. After calling in a hen that didn't like to be cutt at, we took off trying to get in front of the gobbler that sounded off further and further with every yelp. We were closing the gap when we ran across to big hogs that were huffing and charged toward us. We both quickly used a fallen tree right to the side of us to climb up for safety. After checking our drawers and catching our breath, we realized that the gobbler probably did not like the noises we were making while running for our lives. They would kind of remind you of a bus load of elementary cheerleaders at a haunted house.

So it was off to find that "much better place". The only problem was that everywhere we tried, we were limited by flood-waters. on our third attempt, I got out and took about three steps when suddenly the woods exploded with turkeys! A gobbler went one way and the hens went the other. After the anger of flushing the birds, there came the realization that this might not be such a bad thing after all. I knew that the love-sick bird probably would be back to re-unite with his ladies. But how long would it take?

We pulled down the road enough to not interfere with the loners path, and then we walked back to set up and call. 'King strut' with two hens ought to do the trick, I was thinking as I walked over to the big oak just inside the timber. At 4 o'clock, four hours into this set up, there was a little bit of thunder and the sky was threatening rain. I told Colt that I was going to call one last time before moving to another spot. Five strokes to the 'cherry bomb' , and finally we had a response. I didn't care that it sounded like he was in the next state. The fact was that he gobbled at my call. A minute later, I did another series and he was at half the distance as the previous. The next time I called, he gobbled loud enough to make me flinch. It seamed as though when he drummed, that it vibrated the river bottoms, but I still couldn't see him. Then he stepped into view at about 50 yards, and that was when he made eye contact with his new worst enemy, "Mr. Strut". Immediately he was offended by the strutting decoy and he was not going to be having any of that. The charge was on! At a distance of 15 yards and just moments before the annihilation of my decoy, Colt gave the o.k. The swarm of shot found it's mark and my first video turkey was fanning the leaves. The emotion of excitement with the feelings of accomplishment were overwhelming! We had hunted for 10 straight hours and it had finally paid off !

After watching the footage back, I was amazed at how my son held it together and captured the hunt as well as he did. It was his first day to be a videographer and I guess beginners luck was on our side. But hey, I'll take it ! And now that I know he can handle it, he just might find his self behind the camera a little more often!