“The Hunt Begins.” Mary Ansel and her guide, and husband, Derek.
Note: Please read “From Hunters Wife to Hunter”( below) before reading this 2nd installment of Mary’s turkey hunt.
We started our hunt on Friday on a piece of property where a big tom had been seen by the property owner. We sat, and sat, and then sat some more. I had gloves and a face mask on, and was starting to get hot. The temperature was, a very warm 83 degrees. No turkeys, but lots of gnats! Derek had another spot to check out, and this looked like the place to be in the morning. There were turkey tracks, and wing feather trails all over, in the sand. I guess it was a “turkey hot spot” if there is such a thing.
Saturday morning the alarm went off at 4:30, just as planned. The snooze button was hit so many times it ceased to function, which was “not” in the plans. It was very late when we finally rolled out of bed. We threw on our camouflage and headed out. Thankfully there was a McDonald’s on our way, and I got my morning cafe’ mocha. I’m a different breed of hunter I know. Imagine my joy when we passed a Starbucks in Gaylord. We didn’t get out in the woods until 9:30, and Derek was apologetic over being so late in the “turkey woods.” He kept saying “I’m always out before sunrise!” “What would my dad say,” he wondered out loud?
This may seem totally “stupid” to many of you seasoned hunters, but I had not yet shot my gun. With raising four kids, and all the duties of a mom, there just had not been time. This made my probability of actually getting a bird quite slim. Then again I had no anticipation of the loud bang, or the recoil when I squeezed the trigger. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
We found a place where I could sit against a tree, and Derek layed behind me to do the calling. It didn’t take long for some birds to answer in the distance. Derek called to those birds for, what seemed like hours. They were not moving! Derek decided it was us that had to move, so we did. I have to say that this entire time I couldn’t get over my surroundings. The songbirds, blue-jays, and woodpeckers were all seemingly conversing back and forth, and off in the distance were those stubborn gobbling turkeys.
In a last ditch effort Derek decided to try and bring the hens in, as those big boys weren’t leaving their “ladies!” Derek started going crazy on his call, and I didn’t have a clue that he was stirring up the hens. Well whatever he was doing it was working, as the gobbling started getting closer. Suddenly I could see a turkey’s head bouncing through the trees. My heart started to beat hard. My shot gun rested on my knee, and I was ready to shoot.
The bird got closer and closer until, wait, it was a hen! No, make that two hens, and strutting just behind them were two big old tom’s!!! Their feathers were spread out and they were beautiful. Derek said not to shoot yet, cause they needed to get a little closer. The hens were only about 15 yards away, and starting to get nervous. Then the tom’s seemed to notice something was going on. They started to turn, and I asked Derek, “can I move to shoot them?” He said “yes” and I quickly lined up my gun on the second bird, and went for it. ” Bam.” I couldn’t tell if I had gotten it or not, but as soon as I saw Derek’s face I could tell he was down! I started jumping up and down, and ran over and hugged my patient husband. It was so exciting! I was very proud and wanted to carry that bird around with me all day. (I didn’t of course!)
The rest of the trip was spent hiking up and down beautiful hills, looking for mushrooms, and just enjoying God’s creation. We found 70 morel mushrooms! More than that we found quiet peace that I think,in this busy world, we both needed.
I hope this story calls out to any potential women hunters or even just nature lovers. Get out there whenever and wherever you can! Take your families or friends and experience as much as you can. You will be glad you did!
I want to thank Mary for her great story. She is an inspiration to all the hunting/outdoor community. It was so refreshing to relive those old “first time” feelings that came from a pure unpolluted beginners heart. Thanks Mary, and you too Derek.