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Gary Howey

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His First hunt, His First Shot and His First Turkey

Entered by Gary Howey

Former tournament angler, hunting and fishing guide. Inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing "Hall of Fame" in 2017. Active member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW), Past Executive Director (AGLOW). Howey has been an outdoor communicator since 1980 with his award winning syndicated "Of the Outdoors" columns appearing in magazine, newspapers, and tabloids throughout he upper Midwest and nationally.

October 18, 2019


  There’s only one thing in fall turkey hunting that resembles spring turkey hunting, and that’s that the hunter is

hunting a turkey.


  In the spring, Nebraska hunters can take one gobbler with their permit and in the spring, you can call the bird to you.

  While in the fall, a Nebraska hunter can take two birds, either sex with his permit, but calling a turkey in the fall can be difficult.

  I had the opportunity to take a young man out on not only his first turkey hunt, but also his first experience at hunting, as he’d never fired a shotgun before.

  I also outfitted him with some camo, a turkey-hunting vest as well as furnishing him with a shotgun and shells for his inaugural hunt.

  Dayton Kadavy, Hartington had recently moved to Hartington, was really into fishing, an excellent angler, and indicated he’d like to do some hunting.

 I had taken him to several conservational groups’ banquets, Pheasants Forever and Whitetails Unlimited, to introduce him to the events and those hunters that attended.

  He’d hadn’t taken his Hunter’s Safety Course, so when our group of instructors held a class in August; he attended and passed with flying-colors.

  Dayton was busy with school and football, so we needed to get together on a date that would work for both of us to go hunting.

  We finally found a Saturday that would work for both of us and after stopping at Stop-N-Go for a breakfast sandwich, we headed north to a friend’s land where a group had been crossing through.

  Arriving at the pasture & CRP we’d set up in, it looked as if we may have gotten there a little late, but we set up, say a deer and fought the mosquitoes for a half hour before deciding to try another area.

  As we were storing our gear, I received a call from a friend asking what I was up to, told him we were trying to get Dayton a turkey. He indicated when he was coming into the place a group of birds crossed the road and we were welcome to hunt there.

  Glancing over at Dayton, as a big smile came across his face that told me he was ready to go, where we knew we’d find turkeys.

  We headed south and as we came off the highway onto a main gravel road, before us lay a road; that because of the recent rains, was a muddy, sloppy mess torn up by other vehicle as they tried to make the first hill and beyond.

  We locked the truck in 4-wheel drive and slowly slid our way towards the farm we planned to hunt.

  Because of the slow progress getting there, I’d hoped that the birds were still feeding in the open and not into the thick heavy, impenetrable cedar tree shelterbelt that protected the farmstead and cattle yard from the northern winds.

  Turning off the main road onto the road leading to the farm place, I stopped on a slight rise in the road to glass the open ground east of the place.

  After making several searches, I spotted a gobbler and hen meandering up the hill towards the cattle yard, I gave my binoculars so Dayton could see where they were and we headed that way.

  We wasted no time, as we wanted to get in front of the birds before they entered the cedars, we grabbed our gear and proceeded to work our way towards where we last saw the birds.

  Turkeys, even when they aren’t spooked can cover a lot of ground and as we came to the top of the rise, the birds were no longer there.

  Before proceeding any further, it’s always a good idea to glass the area ahead of you as turkeys love to meander, wandering in and out of the cedars.

  Because we saw nothing in the vacant cattle year, we headed for the first group of cedars, set up, hoping to catch some of the birds in the open areas, which proved to be uneventful.

  After setting up several times in the cedars, I thought our best bet would be to move slowly along either side of the cedars and when there was an opening, to move slowly into it and glass the area to see if the birds were in the open.

  This is where I made a mistake, as Dayton should have been in the lead and as I looked out into the cattle yard, a gobbler and hen were there off to my left, I signaled Dayton to move forward, but the birds had spooked.

  Our best bet in order to hunt the place with its thick cedar windbreaks would be to work along either side of the cedars, hoping to have the birds move into the open where we’d have a shot.

  I would be coming down the side adjacent to a u-harvested bean field while Dayton worked his way south through the unoccupied cattle yard on the opposite side.

  As I came around the bend in the shelterbelt, not far from the end, I heard a shot with Dayton yelling, “I got one.”

  There lying on the ground, was a big mature hen and as I came around the cedars, it was obvious by the smile on his face and the way he said, “It was the first time I fired a shotgun” that he was excited.

  As this was his first hunt and if I were to guess, from this point on he was not only hooked on fishing, but hunting as well.

  After several “High” fives, Dayton picked up his first bird as we made our way back to my pickup for a couple photos.

  Dayton immediately text his mother, adding one of the photos I took, letting her know he had been successful.

   We then tagged the first bird on his permit, headed for my office where I showed him what we’d do in order to get the bird ready for roasting.

  Together we cleaned and plucked the bird, which took just a little less time than the actual hunt.

  This was not only a great first hunt for Dayton, but it was also a special one for me, as I had introduced someone new to the sport of hunting, one I believed would be in the field numerous times from this point going forward.

      Gary Howey Hartington, Neb. is a former tournament angler, fishing & hunting guide,  an award winning writer, producer, photographer and broadcaster, a recent inductee into the “National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame” in 2017.  Howey is also the Producer-Co-Host of the Outdoorsmen Adventures television series and Outdoor Adventures radio. If you are looking for more outdoor information, check out, and like Gary Howey’s Facebook or watch his shows on

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