You Only Get One Shot
Several drops of morning dew fall on Virginia turkey hunter Derrick Cline as he nestles a gun-stock tight in his shoulder. He’s as still as a corpse as he peers underneath an olive brimmed boonie hat. His morning chirp-calls have been answered, too. The gobbler he’s been tracking all Spring appears 15 yards away from his stand.
As his right cheek lays flush with the side of a handed-down black Ithaca 12 gauge, Cline knows he’s only got one shot. And the seasoned hunter knows he’s got to make it count.
As he calculates every subtle step the bIrd takes, Cline quietly clicks off his safety using his right index finger. He’s breathing slow and Cline’s composure is uncanny as this broad-chested brown gobbler finally makes its way closer to his position.
The bird’s grey beard hovers the ground only for a brief moment as it pecks and scratches its way through a patch of wet leaves.
“That’s a fat turkey right there, boy,” Cline says with excitement, “Reminds me of a girl my buddy Kenny used to date!”
Cline smiles and laughs as he shucks a smoking green shotgun shell from the gun’s chamber. He knows he just bagged a big bird and he’s ready to take a closer look.
As he stands up from his crouched position he slings his shotgun over his shoulder. Then the Chesterfield County native sets his eyes upon what’s definitely no ordinary-size turkey.
“These are the kind of birds we see here out in South Hampton, Virginia, bud. All day every day. Best place in Virginia to torch a turkey in my opinion,” Cline says.
Cline says he’s been hunting South Hampton turkeys since he was knee-tall and it never gets old. He claims they seem to get bigger every year.
When asking Mr. Cline what time of year he sees turkeys most active he says late Spring.
We asked why he thought that was so.
Cline says that the bug-count increases in the late Spring. He says that’s an obvious fact that most young men never think about. Cline says he likes to post up near old fallen oaks to find his turkeys. He says that turkeys tend to look for termites in the late Spring and they’ll strut around old oak-tree stumps to feed.
As Cline holds the turkey up by its feet he grunts a little because this gobbler easily weighs 30 pounds. It’s a site to see and Cline has a smile that runs ear to ear.
When asking Cline if he has any tips on hunting turkeys he simply says, “You only get one shot on a turkey, so my best advice to anyone listening is to make it count.”