The woods can seem spooky before daylight. Macie Lawrence, 12, listened to coyotes howling nearby while walking through darkened woodlots and fields with her father, Scott Lawrence, and close buddy, Logan Pittman, 12.

The woods can seem spooky before daylight. Macie Lawrence, 12, listened to coyotes howling nearby while walking through darkened woodlots and fields with her father, Scott Lawrence, and close buddy, Logan Pittman, 12.  

A barred owl, perched on a nearby tree limb, made eerie-sounding love calls to its companion, adding to the excitement. A dark woods can be full of noises.

The trio was after big turkey gobblers on a Kansas farm filled with row crops and wood strips. Scott paused to listen and was rewarded by a booming “GOBBLE” and then another to acknowledge the gobbler was roosting where he had hoped.

The veteran hunter felt a flush of excitement while knowing his companions’ eyes must have widened at the sound of that big bird gobbling from his roost, a magnificent sound for hunters or non-hunters.  

The trio stopped and listened to that most incredible time when sounds of birds and various creatures announce dawn’s arrival. They took a few more steps and suddenly the night exploded with sounds of heavy wings flapping as turkey flew off into the night.

Scott knew they had walked through the gobbler’s lair and pushed the turkeys off their roost, always a possibility every hunter dreads when moving into a darkened turkey hunting woods.

“A big gobbler flew down from the left side of a nearby path and three hens from the right side,” Macie said. “Dad quickly set up our hunting tent and a Pretty Boy gobbler decoy. The turkeys seemed to stay in the field, so we settled in and waited.”

Dawn broke and Macie saw the gobbler coming back from about 250 yards away. Then three more turkeys appeared.

“We thought that two of the new birds were jakes and one was a hen,” Logan said. “Another hen moved in and they all started moving towards the blind. We felt kind of nervous.”

Scott started a series of yelps and clucks on his slate call and soon heard heavy wing beats behind the tent. Everyone slowly turned to look out the back slit in the blind to see a big gobbler had moved in behind their position.

The gobbler started putting on a show of fanning, strutting and dragging his wings tips to show dominance to other toms in the area. Scott could clearly hear him drumming, a sound gobblers make during the breeding season.

“I was really excited because all of the turkeys were coming towards us and that big gobbler was showing off,” Macie said. “There were four or five turkeys in front of us. My heart started beating fast.”

A hen was yelping loudly to all toms while the trio nervously sat and waited for their opportunity for a shot. By now the hens were about 40 yards out and the jakes were following their every step. Macie watched as the turkeys occasionally walked close to her side of the blind.

“Suddenly two or three more hens sprinted out of the woods and went after the gobblers,” Logan said. “There were seven turkeys around us.”

The show lasted about 10 minutes before Scott realized the birds might take off and whispered to take a shot when possible. Macie took careful aim with her Remington 20-gauge shotgun and dropped the big gobbler with a clean shot. The jakes charged to the timber and stopped.

Logan aimed at the biggest bird with his Browning 20-gauge and shot, dropping his first gobbler in its tracks. Macie’s gobbler was her second after shooting a big bird last season.

“I do a lot of hunting and really enjoy bringing the kids,” Scott said. “We started with BB guns and soon worked up to shotguns. I took them duck hunting first and both did very good. I just try to make this experience fun for them.”

Macie and Logan are working on calling in their first turkey. Both kids plan to eventually call in both ducks and turkeys.

“I have friends at school who think hunting is cool,” Macie said. “They want to go too. Hunting is fun but you have to be patient. I love hunting with my dad!”