Lauren’s First TurkeyPosted on: May 20, 2019 By: FHMD
Oh, how I love to turkey hunt! Now I love to guide as well. This is my first “paid” guided turkey hunt. I’d been asked in the past and was always too busy with my own hunting or scheduling other shooting and hunting events for my business. After thinking about it, I decided I’d try it; after all, nothing pleases most hunters – myself included – more than turning others on to hunting and enjoying the great outdoors. I had no idea about the fantastic first hunt I would experience.
It’s day sixteen in the Maryland spring gobbler season and I’m guiding for two enthusiastic female novices. We are hunting on several hundred acres of private land in the Friendsville area, adjacent to Savage River State Forest in Garrett County. While scouting, I found a promising area, with numerous scratch bowls and droppings, in a location that also presented a large field of view – perfect for setting up our blind!
Jessica, Lauren, and I were up at 4 a.m. and out of our rental cabin at 4:45. We took a short drive to the property, loaded gear in the ATV and drove approximately two miles, parked along the woods line and then walked another ten minutes into the hardwoods to the blind. I set the decoys (a hen and a jake) in a compromising position to allure a lonely or dominant gobbler and we were ready by 5:25 a.m.
The gobbling started promptly at 5:45 a.m. There were several different birds announcing their presence from different locations. I greeted them with a few soft purrs. Oh boy, did that ever wake them up! The dialogue between us went on for only 30 minutes before we had three fired-up gobblers running across the ridge towards us with one thing on their minds. All three approached the decoys and when they stopped and appeared ready to pounce on the jake, I told Lauren to shoot first and then Jessica. Lauren connected on a beautiful longbeard with a 10 1/4 inch beard and unique white markings on a few tail fan feathers! Unfortunately, Jessica did not have the same opportunity as Lauren, but that didn’t dampen the moment and high fives were exchanged. Their excitement was exhilarating!
“This was an experience I’ll never forget,” Lauren said. “The excitement of seeing the turkeys coming to the decoys in response to the calls was thrilling. I had such a hard time keeping my wits about me to take the shot because of the adrenaline and nerves. I was so happy to have Ann Marie guide me through it. Seeing my shot make contact was overwhelming; I’m still on a high from it! I have turkey meat in the freezer and I’m choosing my recipes now. I was never much of an outdoors person growing up, but I must admit that being in the forest when dawn approaches is amazing. Listening and observing the different sounds and behaviors – turkeys, deer, and squirrels this particular morning – was calming and educational. I’m sure this won’t be my last turkey hunt!”
It was a fabulous, exciting hunt and well worth the planning and lack of sleep that led up to this moment. The look on Lauren’s face was priceless; it was a perfect hunt scenario, perfect shot placement and a bit of luck for these novice turkey hunters to have experienced what unfolded before us!
Garrett County offers numerous hunting opportunities on both private and state game lands for the outdoor enthusiast. I’ve taken several nice birds in Savage River State Forest. If you’re not sure where to hunt and need additional information on accessing public hunting locations and maps visit http://www.eregulations.com/maryland/hunting/public-hunting-lands/.
Spring Turkey Season ends May 23rd, 2019, so be sure to get out there while you still can!
Visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources before planning your trip for more information on hunting wild turkey, and to learn more about hunting licenses and regulations. Also, check out the Plan Your Trip section of our website to find lodging options, hunting guides and outfitters, shooting ranges, and outdoor retailers to get the most out of a hunting trip to Maryland.
Why not add a relaxing road trip to your itinerary while you’re fishing in Maryland? Take a little time with the family on your fishing trip to cruise our state’s scenic byways.
This post was written by Ann Marie Foster
Images courtesy of the author and Brian Griffith via Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Flickr account