Judy Branham – My Princess Turkey Hunt

From the moment I laid eyes on her she has been my princess. The fulfillment of having grandkids has a joy all its own nothing in life compares to. Although having a child of my own was one of the greatest joys in my life, having grandkids is on a different plain all together. She acts, talks and looks like me which makes us closer also. We have a bond I have never experienced with anyone else ever; a spiritual closeness that is unbreakable. It is only natural she would enjoy and desire to be in the outdoors. I have taught her about trees, leaves, acorns, gardening…all things outdoors, and hunting since she was born. The other grandkids are following suit and will soon be old enough to experience hunting also if they desire.
Last spring my husband and I decided it was time to offer to take our granddaughter, Shakayla, turkey hunting. She was ecstatic. I signed her up in a free program for youth turkey hunting. This wonderful group of adult hunters holds a turkey hunting seminar each year giving hats, gloves, face masks and more to all youth who attend. During youth turkey weekend in Indiana they have a banquet where all the youth can bring their harvested birds if they have one and share the joy with each other. This is a wonderful program sponsored by Graveyard Hunt Club, Oden Christian Church and more.
We attended the seminar where she met other female youth turkey hunters her age and learned about gun safety, the difference between a Jake, Tom and Hen turkey, and more. Experiencing these kinds of events are great lifelong memories for kids and adults; while being encouraging to all involved in so many ways. Having youth become excited about hunting and outdoor activities is a great experience. They were all excited for opening day to come when we left the seminar.
Opening morning arrived. We woke up early, dressed in our camo, packed our gear and food then headed out the door to walk a long distance to our destination. I wanted her to have the whole experience; walking through the woods in the dark, across rough fields, hearing and seeing the woods wake up…all the wonder and beauty of the outdoors in the spring Hoosier woods. She felt safe being with us and skipped joyfully most of the way to our blind; I will have this joyful jumping shadow imprinted in my mind forever.
As daylight appeared over the horizon we heard a turkey gobble on the roost behind us. We were all very excited thinking he might just come right in front of us very soon if things go well. After a little while a group of two adults and two youth appeared fifty yards from us and began to call to the turkey. They kept him gobbling for over an hour then gave up and left the area. While listening to the loud gobbling we ate peanut butter sandwiches, cookies, drank milk and took a nap; all of which are important lessons of the joy of hunting. Mid-morning the turkeys left the field and she was tired so we gathered our gear and headed home.
I am glad for her having this experience with us so she knows how to handle such things. Although the turkey flew down and went the other way the morning was a success as she experienced a turkey gobbling, some strutting across the field from us with hens through the binoculars and hunter pressure all in one morning. All of these things are important to learn about with experienced ethical hunters. She had a ball and wanted to go again but was not able to. Walking out was just as much fun for her. She sang and swayed as she walked proudly home. This was an experience she will never forget and always have fond memories of, as we will.

Judy and her grand daughter Shakayla during their Princess Turkey Hunt! Photo: Judy Branham

Judy and her grand daughter Shakayla during their Princess Turkey Hunt!
Photo: Judy Branham


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