Welcome to the brotherhood

The smile says it all as CJ Dietrich poses with his first ever hunting trophy.

As I put pen to paper to write this article, I find myself smiling from ear to ear.  This is a brand new story that fills my heart with pride, joy and a sense of encouragement.  

In these bleak times there are still ways to act and feel normal. 

Last summer I asked my 11-year-old granddaughter, Makenzie, if she would like to learn to shoot my crossbow and maybe go deer hunting next fall.  

She seemed to like that idea and we set up a plan for summer practice.

Shortly thereafter I got another idea and I asked her if she would like to learn to shoot my 20-gauge shotgun and go turkey hunting in the 2020 youth turkey season.  

She thought for a while and agreed to try shooting the gun.

Mak’s 8-year-old brother, Connor (CJ), was listening intently to this conversation. He approached me and asked if he could shoot the shotgun, too. 

So on the first Saturday of March I grabbed some turkey targets and the 20-gauge and took these two to practice.

Mak shot first. I could tell she was not thrilled. I asked her if she would like to try it again and she said, “Maybe later.” And that was fine.  

CJ, however was more than ready for his turn. The target was at 20 yards. He had paid close attention as I gave Makenzie the safety lecture and showed her how to use the gun. 

CJ repeated my instructions word-for-word. His first shot was good and he centered the pattern on the bird’s neck. He shot several more times with equally impressive results.  

Mak then took another turn. I asked her if she liked it enough to try going turkey hunting. She very politely declined the invitation.

I turned and looked at CJ and he was grinning like it was Christmas morning.  

“Well, big boy,” I said, as I walked toward him. “Do you want to try to shoot a turkey?”  

The query was followed immediately by a loud and excited, “YES!!” 

So on the ride to set up our blind we talked about 2 things. First, I talked with Mak to make absolutely sure she was not interested.  

After reconfirming her decision, CJ and I began to formulate a plan. It was difficult for me to discern which of us was the most exited.

Makenzie helped us get the blind up under my favorite turkey tree in my favorite turkey hunting spot in the world. The location of this place is not necessary to divulge.  

After our blind was set we took a ride and I showed the kids the rest of the farm. CJ was soaking it up like a sponge.

Now some bad news. The forecast for the pending Saturday of the youth turkey hunting season was terrible. Rain, thunderstorms, flood warnings and high winds kept us out of the field.  

The forecast for Sunday was only marginally better. No precipitation, but high winds over 20 mph. But we both needed to get out of the house, so I picked up my young partner about 7 p.m. on Saturday and drove to spend the night with great friend John Caldwell.  

John’s farm is only 15 minutes from my spot, so by going there we could sleep an extra 45 minutes the next morning.

John welcomed us and spent an hour telling CJ all the turkey hunting stories about his 3 uncles who hunted on John’s farm as they were growing up.  

CJ listened intently and asked a few questions along the way. I think it was good discussion for both of them.

I woke Connor up at 4:30 on Sunday morning. He got ready really quickly and we headed out.  

As soon as we stepped outside it started to rain. There was no rain in the forecast, which means nothing if it is raining. However, the rain stopped the second I stopped the truck.

With overcast skies it would be a slow sunrise, so we had a PBJ and chocolate milk while we waited. That gave me the opportunity to explain to CJ what awful conditions we had for his first day of hunting.  

We had 25 mph winds with 40 mph gusts. I told him how much turkeys hate the wind and that it would be almost impossible to hear a gobble or for a gobbler to hear our calls.

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