We went into the woods as friends, and returned as brothers.
That is the way I felt — and I’m sure that little seven-year-old Jessie Quillen felt — on opening day of our youth turkey season on April 6.
I drove to Letcher County to take Jessie hunting, because he had asked me back in December if I would take him. The morning broke beautiful and a little crisp, but calm and quiet — too quiet because of the lack of gobbling. I asked Jessie before we left the truck if he had enough clothes on. Of course his answer was yes, but I put an extra coat into my backpack just in case. I knew he wouldn’t be cold hiking to the top of the mountain. It is the cool down that is murder.
We arrived at the blind in perfect time to wipe the sweat away and chill for a minute. I hit my first call at seven o’clock, no answer. I knew then it was going to be a tough morning. No gobbling anywhere, but we weren’t there to only kill a turkey, we were there to enjoy what hunting is all about — to see the night creatures go to bed and the day creatures wake up, to see the sun bring light from darkness, and to spend time together.
I handed him the extra coat at 7:30. As I watched him nod off, I knew this hunt was short-lived, but I didn’t care and neither did Jessie, because in his words, “Man I’m having fun.”
And isn’t that what it is all about?
At 9 a.m., our hunt ended for the day when Jessie said, just a little above a whisper, “Steve, I don’t know how much more of this I can stand.”
We didn’t get a turkey, but we did what we set out to do — to bond into this brotherhood we call hunters.