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July 2022
Story by Adam Faz
Hunters: Jenna Faz
State: Arizona

“Sshhhhh!” Starting this short story off this way only seems fitting. Two full disclaimers. One, hunting with small children is not easy, and two, if you are not interested in the birds that are compared to a rutting bull elk, this story might not interest you.

Nineteen months ago, my wife and I were blessed with a tiny human that can only be described as the light of our lives. Being a lifelong hunter, I was completely immersed in the lifestyle that kept me away from home in my early teens and 20s. However, after getting married at the age of 30 and having our son a few years later, things were definitely different in the Faz home. After a couple years of bonus points, my wife, Jenna, finally drew her turkey tag with 13 points. Making plans for the upcoming hunt, we debated, “Should we return the tag and wait another year or actually try hunting with our sprightly little man?” It took a few calls back and forth with our friend, Kevin, but he encouraged and convinced us to bring our son, Ritchie. We planned ahead the best we could, knowing it would not be easy with a 1 1/2-year-old.

Opening morning had us in an area where my dad had killed his turkey a few years prior. With a lack of moisture and zero gobbles, the two-mile round trip showed us we might want a few more lollipops handy. After having returned to the trailer for his midday nap, Ritchie was in good spirits as we headed out for the evening hunt. A slow, windy evening was ahead of us as we hiked into a waterhole with our clone in a backpack pulling on my ears and hat. He was all smiles and giggles with his usual small talk. We would let him go on a few short rants and then slowly motion the universal symbol “shh.” He would nod and mimic “shh” back to us.

Day two had some excitement and a close call that was unfortunately foiled by an old timer and his box call. The evening was slow but still fun as we taught little man bigger rocks make bigger waves in the muddy waterhole that was covered in the dinosaur-like feet of the bird we were looking for.

Dinner came and went, and that 3 a.m. alarm clock sounded all too soon. Our plan for opening weekend was to give it three full days with the whole group and then if a harvest did not pan out, we would come back a few days solo (just Jenna and me) when we could. Leaving camp, in the back of my mind, I knew it would be the last morning having my father, my wife, and my firstborn son with me on this hunt. I get it, it’s only a bird, but I had a goal in mind and I wanted it to come to fruition. Foolishly, I thought I could control the outcome. After listening in the dark for close to an hour, the smaller birds began to chirp, and finally, the first tom sounded off. Again and again, his gobbles broke the morning silence. A headlamp was still needed to get a sleepy boy from his car seat. The bird in the background covered up the small noises of a little boy who had no idea that his silence at this time was golden, nor did he fully understand why we kept repeating “shh” oh so quietly. Kevin and his son, Trevor, led Jenna over the blowdowns as we hung back a little and the first lollipop was opened.

After a short cat and mouse, the tom dropped into a draw at full strut and Jenna picked her opening. Just as fate and time stood still, he walked into her lane at 50 yards, and at mid-gobble, the Mossberg Turkey Thug was the only thing breaking the silence now. Screams and hugs all around! We did it! After the high fives and a phone call to her dad, Jenna was on cloud nine. Trophy pics were to follow, and the look on Ritchie’s face said it all.

The old saying, “The animal is the icing on the cake,” definitely rang true here. A huge thank you to my dad, Eddie, for all his patience and my introduction to hunting 30 years ago when gear or the size of the animal did not matter. Thanks to the Passmore family for purely being them. Appreciate you all! My wife, Jenna, did some fine shooting, and she’s always putting her two boys first and taking care of us. We love you! Last but not least, my son, I hope you can someday have this article as a small stamp in time of how you shaped me and the world around you. I love you! – Dad.