Spencer’s First (real) Turkey HuntWritten by: Matt ImmelThere\u2019s just something special about the spring turkey season.\u00a0 You can feel winter\u2019s long, cold grasp on Wisconsin finally letting go as the sun rises earlier and earlier each morning.\u00a0 It\u2019s hard to beat sitting in the woods breathing in the cool, crisp air while feeling the warm sunshine on your back and listening to gobbling in the trees.\u00a0 For me, there are few things more peaceful and refreshing than this time of year!Well, the beginning of the 2018 spring turkey season\u2026. specifically the weekend of the youth hunt\u2026was anything like what I just described.\u00a0 Instead of a calm, crisp, sunny morning in the woods, we experienced howling winds that approached 50mph and pelting rain, sleet, and snow.\u00a0 Much of Wisconsin was stuck in the cold, harsh squeeze of Mother Nature as she hammered down on us with one last winter punch.\u00a0 The blizzard presented quite the challenge for the youth hunt, but a little wind, rain, and snow wasn\u2019t going to stop us!Spencer takes a few practice shots while his dad provides guidance.I\u2019d been taking my son, Spencer (10), turkey hunting with me for the past five years or so.\u00a0 Each year brought excitement as spring came and we could hear the gobblers proclaiming their dominance behind our house when we went out in the morning to let the dog run.\u00a0 We would both turn and look at each other with excitement when we would hear one.\u00a0 Spencer would come along on hunts and sit in the blind with me, hoping to get a glimpse of one of the gobblers up close and witness the harvest first hand.\u00a0 He\u2019d get up early on his own as soon as he would hear my alarm go off, and often be dressed and in the truck ready to go before I was!\u00a0 He\u2019d help carry decoys to the blind and set them out.\u00a0 Then in the darkness of the blind, he\u2019d often cozy up between my legs and fall back asleep while we waited for dawn and the sought-after gobblers to appear.\u00a0 Of course, he denied falling asleep, but I always enjoyed those few quiet moments in the blind with him sleeping, sometimes more than the hunt itself.\u00a0 I\u2019m sure there are several dads out there that can relate.\u00a0 I\u2019ve never been blessed with good luck\u2026. or timing\u2026and it never failed that the times the birds would cooperate would be times that Spencer wasn\u2019t with me in the blind.\u00a0 Regardless, his thirst for the hunt never dwindled.Fast forward to 2018.\u00a0 My brother-in-law, AJ, invited us down by him to participate in the youth hunt this year.\u00a0 I wish you could have seen Spencer\u2019s eyes light up when I told him about the hunt.\u00a0 Spencer has grown up quite a bit in the past 5 years and has a pretty even keel.\u00a0 Not much excites him, and when it does, I\u2019ll maybe get a slight smirk out of him showing his excitement.\u00a0 Well, he grinned ear to ear when he learned he would have the opportunity to harvest his first bird this year as a 10-year-old.\u00a0 The excitement continued to build for both of us as the hunt approached.\u00a0 That excitement quickly turned to concern on my part, as the weather forecast came out and got worse and worse.\u00a0 As a parent, we all want our kids to experience the best in everything, right?\u00a0 No different here.\u00a0 I wanted this trip to be the best experience for him as possible, capped off with Spence bagging his first big Tom.Spencer proved deadly on the makeshift cardboard turkey heads.The day before the hunt, Spencer and I began organizing our supplies and packing things up.\u00a0 The drive to where we would hunt was going to be about 40 minutes from our house and I think Spence could tell I was a little anxious.\u00a0 Finally, he asked, \u201cDad we are going tomorrow even if the weather is bad, right??!!\u201d\u00a0 I responded as any good parent would do and flat out lied saying, \u201cAbsolutely bud!\u201d\u00a0 Deep down, I didn\u2019t know if we would be able to go.\u00a0 The forecasted wind and snow were hardly good conditions for driving, let alone for hunting.\u00a0 AJ and I had planned to hunt Saturday afternoon, weather pending, as we knew the morning would be rough in those conditions.\u00a0 So, Spencer and I went to bed early and I said an extra prayer that God would bless us with the opportunity to hunt and harvest a bird.I woke up Saturday morning to Spencer standing over my bed looking at me.\u00a0 \u201cDad, when do you think we will head out?!\u201d\u00a0 he said.\u00a0 After I gathered my bearings and looked at my clock to discover it was only 6 AM, I responded, \u201cIt\u2019s going to be a few hours yet for sure buddy.\u00a0 We have to check in with AJ.\u201d\u00a0 The next few hours were spent fielding questions from Spencer, checking the radar, and debating what to do.\u00a0 Finally, we headed south to meet AJ and hopefully find some birds.\u00a0 My truck was pushed from side to side by the wind as we made the drive, but I knew we had to give it a shot.\u00a0 I wanted Spencer to develop an appreciation for the outdoors and hunting, and his excitement presented the perfect opportunity to do so.\u00a0 We met AJ, loaded up our gear, and headed out to scope out some fields with the hope of finding some birds.Luckily, it didn\u2019t take too long, and from the truck, we could see two toms slowly moving alongside a river, and luckily, they were on land we had permission to hunt on.\u00a0 They were slowly moving along the edge of the tall grass on the bank of the river, which featured trees that kept them out of the howling winds.\u00a0 We didn\u2019t see any other birds with them, but the toms were headed in the direction of a larger wood block a few hundred yards away in which the birds would normally roost.\u00a0 This was our chance!\u00a0 Seeing as the birds were in no hurry, we went up the road and Spencer took a few practice shots at a target and before we\u2019d make our stalk around the birds.\u00a0 Slowly, we crept along the river edge through the thick brush to an open hayfield along the woods just over a hill from where we hoped the birds would work to.\u00a0 Hidden behind the hill, we were able to set up our blind and a hen decoy (a strutting tom would have been blown away!) and began to wait.Thankfully the woods provided shelter from the wind and pelting sleet.\u00a0 We talked about what we hoped would happen, where we hoped the birds would move, and got Spencer set in a spot where he could take a shot.\u00a0 AJ made a few calls\u2026nothing.\u00a0 We waited and made a few more calls\u2026nothing.\u00a0 Suddenly, above the crest of the hill, we saw a little \u201cperiscope\u201d pop up.\u00a0 If you have hunted turkey before, you know what I\u2019m talking about.\u00a0 There\u2019s nothing quite like seeing that turkey head pop up to check out what all the noise is about.\u00a0 The birds were here!!\u00a0 Before we knew it, there was a flock of about 16 birds that had crested the hill and were slowly making their way toward us.\u00a0 Then the \u201cDad, when can I shoot?\u201d questions started flowing in.\u00a0 \u201cNot yet, bud\u2026they are too far away.\u201dThe turkeys dilly-dallied just out of range for nearly an hour.Unfortunately, other than popping their heads up to take a look, the birds didn\u2019t respond to the calls and were content with milling around just out of range.\u00a0 Finally, as the flock started to make their way to the woods, a little hen took interest in the decoy and started to head our way and a jake followed a safe distance behind.\u00a0 Spencer started to shake with excitement.\u00a0 \u201cDad will you cover my ears when it\u2019s time to shoot?\u201d he asked.\u00a0 \u201cNo, bud,\u201d I replied.\u00a0 \u201cTrust me, you won\u2019t hear the gun you will be so excited\u201d.\u00a0 As luck would have it, the hen walked right up to and around the decoy that was about 15 yards from our blind, but the Jake stayed perfectly in line with her so that she was between our blind and him.\u00a0 Spencer couldn\u2019t get off a shot!\u00a0 Finally, the hen began to head to the woods and a window opened up to take the Jake.\u00a0 It was a healthy poke for a youth shotgun\u2026about 40 yards with a crosswind, but this was going to be our only chance.\u00a0 \u201cShoot!\u201d I whispered in his hear.\u00a0 He shot, the bird jumped and ran off.\u00a0 Spence didn\u2019t waste a second and had the gun up to take another shot, but the opportunity had passed.Immediately, I thought\u2026crap\u2026I hope he doesn\u2019t get discouraged.\u00a0 It was a super exciting hunt\u2026..but no bird to take home.\u00a0 Would he be able to appreciate that, and would he want to come back for more?\u00a0 We climbed out of the blind and he turned and whispered to me, \u201cDad can we do this again?\u201d\u00a0 My eyes welled up with tears as I told him that we absolutely could.\u00a0 We didn\u2019t get to hunt the next day as the snow that had arrived made it too dangerous to drive (some areas got over 2 ft. of snow\u2026in April!).\u00a0 Spence was more disappointed by the weather that next day than by the fact he missed the bird.Good times in the turkey blind!Luckily for Spencer, his tag is still good for the last week of the season.\u00a0 He has NOT forgotten that and is more than excited for another opportunity at a gobbler.\u00a0 Success!!\u00a0 Out of some of the worst conditions came probably the best memory I have to date of hunting\u2026.and we didn\u2019t even get a bird.\u00a0 If you have a chance to take your son or daughter hunting\u2026please do it!!\u00a0 The memories and bond made that day in the woods with Spencer, AJ, and I will last a lifetime.\u00a0 What more could someone ask for?