With turkey hunting season on my mind and cold weather outside I started to look through some old pictures and remember all the great memories I have experienced turkey hunting with my son.
Logan got into hunting at a young age and I made it a point to get him in the woods as much as I could. Logan and I hunted the youth season in Iowa starting at the age of 8. I always made it an adventure. We would go to a different location every year and stay in a motel or cabin and spend the entire weekend together chasing birds. We had our ups and downs, with misses and hard-to-call birds but still did not have a kill.
The most memorable hunt of all was when Logan was 11. We got invited to hunt down in Missouri on C and D Farms. Colonel Jack Oliver was our guide and it was a time we will always remember.
Jack was the nicest man I have ever met. He was so patient with Logan and filled him with story after story. When times were slow he let him call and showed him different ways to call. Later in the morning, on the first day, Logan told me he was hungry. Jack looked over at him, smiled and reached into his back pack and pulled out a can of Vienna sausages and a sleeve of crackers. By the look in Logan’s eyes he had no idea what a Vienna sausage was. Jack smiled again and said “try some, they’re not bad.” After having our snack we continued to hunt, going up and down hills and ravines, cutting and running, trying to locate birds.
Jack was always looking out for us. Jack was like a billy goat, never slowing down except to let us catch up. The first day ended with no luck. On the second day we went to a different area and the morning started off with loud gobbles on the roost. We were all excited but the birds flew down and worked off in a different direction. Jack kept telling Logan “we have to be patient; it will all come together.”
Late that morning Jack took us to the top of a hill where three ridges all came together. He told us it was a good afternoon spot to just call and wait. We set up in the middle of a meadow by a huge oak tree. Jack showed Logan how to clean out the area and set up the portable ground blind in front of us. He showed Logan how to set up the decoys, explaining how having the Jake decoy there would draw in the dominant Tom.
We settled in and Jack started calling. Expecting it to be a long sit, we were chatting with Logan about what he should do when one came in. It had only been about 15 minutes after Jack’s second calling sequence when I heard the sound of crunching leaves coming out of a ravine behind us. I whispered to Logan, who was sitting between us, that turkeys were coming up the hill. You could see him get nervous and his breathing changed,
Logan had never killed a turkey. Jack started talking him through what was going to happen in a soft, comforting voice. I remember it well, Jack said “Logan, relax this is going to happen and you will do fine.” He had Logan reposition his V-Pod, which helped him hold the gun up.
Up out of the ravine came five hens and a big Tom. The birds were about 40 yards away, milling around. Logan was shooting his 780 20-gauge so Jack knew he had to get them close. Jack kept whispering to him, “Logan, relax and breathe.” All of a sudden that big Tom saw the Jake decoy and I knew it was on. That tom’s head turned bright white and he broke into strut and headed right for the decoy.
As the Tom got to 30 yards Jack told Logan, “When I say shoot…” Bang! The gun went off and Jack didn’t even get to finish his sentence. The big gobbler was flopping around and settled to rest. Jack yelled out “You slobber-knocked him!” We all looked at each other and the party began. Logan gave me his gun and ran out to the bird. Jack and I were high-fiving and celebrating along with him.
After Logan and I hugged and cried a little he had his first turkey in the books. Jack made Logan feel like he was the only one on earth who had killed a turkey. Jack took some great pictures in the timber of us and then went and plucked a small feather from the back of the turkey and stuck it in the hole in Logan’s hat. Then he said “Now everyone who sees you will know you got a bird today!!”
Looking at these pictures has brought back a flood of emotions. But that was just the type of person Jack was. You could spend two days with him and feel like he was your best friend for life. Jack, you may not be with us any more, but you will be remembered for life!! God Bless!!