PLACERVILLE — There is nothing better than hunting with your grandchildren, and this writer was lucky enough to hunt with his 13-year-old grandson Travis Mays the opening Sunday of the 2012 turkey season.
After a successful opening Saturday turkey hunt with long time friend Bob Nelson of Pioneer, Nelson suggested calling one of my grandson’s for the Sunday shoot. When I called my son to see if Travis could turkey hunt Sunday, well, it was a no brainer. My grandson was at the house within the hour with his sleeping bag and his shotgun in hand.
As we loaded the truck Sunday morning it was drizzling rain, something I was not counting on and a little discouraged having to hunt in the rain. I wanted Travis’s hunt to be enjoyable and not cold and wet, so I loaded his duck hunting waders and we headed out for the El Dorado Foothills at 4:30 a.m.
As soon as we met long time friend Bob Nelson in Plymouth, the rain stopped and things were starting to look up. We had a short 5-minute drive to a ranch close by and we had our blind set up and ready to hunt within 30 minutes.
We knew we were nowhere close to the roost tree so we could talk softly and could use our headlamps to make the setup quick and pleasant. We had spotted some long beards when we were leaving the ranch at 8:30 in the morning on Saturday and these were the birds we were targeting for the hunt.
Hunting in a blind made it so comfortable and gave us freedom of movement, for we knew it would take our tom’s a good 2 hours to reach our location. I don’t know if it was the rain that delayed our birds, but it was pushing noon and still no turkeys.
My grandson’s young eyes spotted a young Jake about 100 yards standing in the middle of the draw that led to our blind. Then 2 more jakes rounded the corner along with 2 hens and I gave them some soft purrs and yelps and they headed right for our 2 hen decoys. They only hung up for about a minute and then came right into the decoys.
We had Travis practice a couple of dry runs on bringing his 20-gauge shotgun slowly to his shoulder and out the window of the blind earlier in the morning, so he knew the drill. After the birds strutted for a good 5 minutes for our hen decoys, they moved right up to the decoys and I told Travis to raise his gun and when one of them goes out of strut, take the shot.
I just wished I had my video camera running, because he did everything perfect, except he didn’t shake from the excitement during the practice run. Even with a little trembling, he was able to make a perfect shot to the head on the middle bird and down it went.
After a couple of quiet knuckle bumps and the Jake was finished flopping on the ground, we sat quietly waiting for a possible longbeard to show up. After waiting for 20 minutes we decided to let Travis go retrieve his bird and our hunt was over.
Travis thanked Bob Nelson for the hunt and said, “This was so exciting and so much fun grandpa, when are we going again, I’m out of school all week on spring break.”
I enjoyed every hunt with my son and now I’m blessed to be able to repeat hunting with my grandchildren. Two of my grandson’s, ages 12 & 13, passed their hunter safety this last spring and we have enjoyed pheasant and duck hunting this season. It will be my 12-year-old grandson Will’s turn for the next hunt, and he’s fired up and can’t wait.
Take a kid hunting; it’s better than pulling the trigger yourself.
TRAVIS MAYS and WON Staffer Bill Mays with Travis' first wild turkey shot the second day of the season near Pioneer with the help of grandpa, and friend Bob Nelson. WON PHOTO