A Turkey for Jerry

The roar of Jerry Gilpin’s old 12-gauge pump shotgun jolted me out of my daydreaming. I turned and saw a fallen turkey just a few yards from our decoys. A couple of hens were hot-footing it across the only opening I had in the trees. Right behind them, a big gobbler was closing the distance to the nearby woods.

I brought my Browning Sweet Sixteen shotgun up and swung the bead along with his trotting head. Just a few yards from the thick oaks ringing the field, I found my shot.

I was dumbfounded by our good fortune. It was only an hour and a half into the first day of spring turkey season and we already had two nice gobblers on the ground.

Nothing to It

I got up from behind a blown-down oak and started into the field. I could see Jerry, grinning hugely, approaching his bird. We did a whoop-and-holler dance — our two gobblers had fallen only 7 yards apart. I glanced at my watch. It was 8 a.m. sharp. Nothing to it!

“That was really cool!” Jerry kept repeating to me, as if I didn’t fully understand what had just happened. We collected our decoys and admired our birds side by side. They were nearly identical mature gobblers with nice beards and spurs. As I poured us each a cup of hot coffee, Jerry called his wife to tell her about his first turkey hunt.

“Yeah, we both got one,” he told her. “I shot mine, and then Don got one a few seconds later.” He made it sound so easy, like it worked out just as he had expected.

I didn’t want to dampen his euphoria, but I explained to Jerry just how unusual this was, and how fortunate we were to both get gobblers. His look told me this was pretty much the way he thought it would play out — maybe with only one turkey instead of two — but he had been confident in our success all along.

An Unlikely Mentor

This unusual hunt was the result of months of planning. One afternoon, back in the dead of winter, my wife, Gloria, casually mentioned that our friend, Kathy, had asked if I would consider taking her husband, Jerry, on his first turkey hunt.

“You wouldn’t mind taking Jerry turkey hunting with you, would you?” she asked, though it was more of a