With his first archery buck harvest still fresh on his mind, 10 year old Justin Gailis was hoping to extend his lucky streak with a giant spring gobbler. Justin is no stranger to chasing long beards across the Missouri hills and valleys. In fact, he has been following fellow 724 Outdoors and Commando Hunting Products prostaffer, Jason Klump, and I for many years.
Opening day of the 2009 Missouri youth turkey season wasn't starting out in ideal fashion. I had work obligations ,but thanks to a caring supervisor, was able to work a half day. I picked up Justin at noon and by 12:30 we were carrying more gear than we could manage. With our Double Bull Blind, shotgun, bipod, tripod, decoys, backpack of Commando calls and snacks and our camera equipment, I was getting dirty looks from Justin as he fell behind with arms full. He is all to familiar with the phrase, " Don't shoot yet I don't have the camera on him".
I was a little worried because on the way to our planned location I could not strike-up one gobbler. We were hunting on a beautiful 110 acre piece of private ground that I knew held numerous birds so we decided to stick with our plan and set up on a field bordered by a deep wooded valley. Our plan was to stay put in our blind for the rest of the day and wait those longbeards out.
This turned out to be one of those hunts that you dream about. Within 20 minutes a hen came running into our setup after I had given a few excited yelps from my Commando friction call. After she was gone for 10 minutes I really let loose with a series of calls and within seconds heard a very distant gobble. I waited 5 minutes then called again. Another gobble echoed through the valley and I knew he was closer and on his way! After My third short series of calls, his thunderous response assured me he was commited to finding the lovesick hen.
Suddenly, there he was! Only 50 yards to our left and in full strut. When he saw our decoys, a Peep-n-Tom with a real Jake fan and a single bobbin head hen, he made a half circle behind a small rise and out of our sight. I knew he was trying to make up his mind so I threw him a few very light yelps. That pushed him over the edge and within seconds he let out a fierce gobble and topped the rise in full strut. Justin told me he was on the bird and asked if I was ready. As I zoomed in on the giant gobbler I told Justin to shoot whenever he was ready. I had barely finished my last word when " BOOM " echoed across the landscape and the longbeard piled up 30 yards away. We went nuts, yelling and jumping around the blind. It is amazing how one hunt where everything finally goes your way can just show up without warning. And believe me, I have been waiting many years for that hunt!
" Jr. Commando " Justin Gailis. 9 1/2 inch beard 1 1/8 spurs