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April 2: Larry Steward

There are more important things in life than hunting.

That’s not exactly something you’d expect to read on a website dedicated to hunting, but it’s true. In fact, it’s the reason that Larry had stepped away from chasing gobblers for four years. His wife Sandie had been ailing, so he spent the bulk of his time caring for her. Hunting had to go on hold.

Unfortunately, Sandie passed in July of 2016. It was a major loss for Larry and changed his life in many ways, including giving him more discretionary time. Just a few months later in October, his son and DOD field staffer Bric purchased a southeastern Illinois farm that they had hunted for years. The two poured themselves into renovating the property. After a four year hiatus, Larry was making preparations for his return to the hunting game.

The guys had killed birds on one particular hillside in years past. This year, they had decided to clear off a four acre patch there with a dozer to put in a food plot. The activity had bumped the turkeys off the property for a while, but their pre-season scouting from a Muddy blind had shown signs that a flock had returned.

Larry and Bric were in the blind before first light on April 3. Since there were so few birds around on the property, they only put one Avian-X hen decoy out in the clearing. It didn’t take much time calling before a gobbler and a jake sneakily closed the 350 yard distance from their roost and circled around into range at 14 yards.

As the old tom began inspecting the decoy, Larry shouldered his Winchester SX3 and settled the reticle of his scope where the bird’s neck gave way to feathers. He squeezed off a round of Winchester Longbeard XR #4 and the gobbler dropped in its tracks without so much as a single flop. At 7:08 am, Larry’s comeback was official.

Four years away from hunting is a long time, but time well spent when it comes to caring for a family member. Though bittersweet, we’re glad Larry’s back in the game.

As told to Tim Kjellesvik