Turkey Hunting photo

Well, don’t shoot at first anyway.

You may remember that I hunted turkeys with Cabela’s from wall tents on the Nebraska prairie last month. After I killed my two birds, I was looking to crash someone else’s hunt, and learning that Camp Chef rep Steve McGrath doesn’t call, I volunteered to yap and squawk for him—because I’m selfless like that.

So we drove a couple of miles north of the camp and stopped to glass at a high rim where the cultivated flatland drops into a network of rugged canyons, walled thickly in cedars. From there, the grassy bottoms reached away like long fingers—and right out there, spinning round in an open strip of greening prairie, stood a big Merriam’s tom.

Moving in, we eventually peered around the spur that you see in the video below. (Two other sponsors on this hunt were Remington and GoPro; so along with the spur, what you see here is the barrel of a 12-gauge Versa Max, as recorded by the GoPro camera mounted on it.) As you’ll see, the gobbler was all by his lonesome several hundred yards away and desperate for some company.

It might have been a quick, easy hunt. But that wasn’t a big enough challenge for Steve, I guess, who decided to ratchet up the degree of difficulty by leaving the gun in his lap as the gobbler walked into range. I thought about telling him to get his gun up, but he was shaking so hard with excitement, I didn’t want to kill his buzz with details. And, as it turned out, being totally unprepared for the initial shot proved a brilliant move.

Suddenly, we had no choice but to let the gobbler walk past us before attempting a shot, and as it did, not much more than 10 yards away (the wide-angle GoPro makes the bird look much farther) we could actually feel the low rumble of his gobbles, like a cell phone on vibrate. Finally, with the bird facing away, fanned up, and head hidden by his tailfeathers, Steve turned and dropped him.

It was one of the most exciting turkey hunts I’ve ever been a part of, all thanks to Steve somehow spacing at first that he might want to take the gun out of his lap. Of course he took some ribbing back at camp, and naturally I threw him under the bus a little. But only a little—because the truth is that I’m a pretty big fan of the harmless boneheaded move, of which I’ve had plenty of personal experience. Unflappable, beady-eyed competence is all well and good, but let’s face it—a little boring. A good screw-up on the other hand (as long as it isn’t unsafe) always makes for a more interesting hunt and a better story around the campfire. So while Steve thanked me for calling in his bird, I thanked him for one heck of a fun hunt.