Doug got his birthday present on April 4 and a bonus one the following day.

As most of us with kids know, our outdoor experiences gradually cease to be about what we accomplish and become more about what they achieve. Doug and his nine year old son Eli headed back to Kansas this year after Eli got hooked on gobblers there in 2015, killing two then coming back home to Arkansas to kill a third there. This year, he gave up a baseball game to go back to Kansas for a quick three day turkey hunt.

On the first day of their hunt, Eli showed discretion by passing on four jakes that passed within two yards of their blind. They didn’t kill anything that day, but roosted a gobbler in the evening to set up on him the following day. What looked like a slam dunk turned into a long shot though as the tom flew down in the wrong direction that morning. Doug and Eli left the blind and skirted a bluff for a half mile to intercept the gobbler. They already had another blind setup in the area they slipped in to.

It wasn’t until 10:30 that their bird sounded off and came in to range. Eli came through on the shot with his Winchester Youth Model 20 gauge while Doug called, coached and managed the camera. Who said moms are the only parents who can multi-task?

Eli had just given Dad his first birthday present. Now on to the second.

April 5 found the guys in the same blind they killed a turkey out of the day before. It wasn’t until 10:00 AM that a flock of jakes showed up to bother the King Strut decoy paired with a Shady Lady. Again, Eli chose to wait on a mature bird while Doug used the jakes as live decoys.

A half hour later, a gobbler showed up on the scene. He came in from behind their blind and when he made eye contact with the King Strut, sprinted in for a fight. He made it within two yards of the blind before he began drumming and putting on a show. After a few tense moments of urgent whispers between Doug and Eli to ensure he was ready to shoot, the nine year old turkey man unleashed the Winchester, rolling the bird to the ground. Doug watched his second birthday present arrive through the lens of a camera.

Harvesting any animal is a joy unlike any other in life and is eclipsed only by the thrill of watching your kids do the same. I get the feeling these two birds are only part of the beginning of a long and successful career chasing gobblers. Congratulations Eli and happy birthday Doug!