A Few Good Hens

Today’s blog post comes from one of Sportsman Channel’s own staff members, Courtney NicolsonThe following is a recap of Courtney’s first successful hunting trip ever!

You could say I’ve been feeling blue. After calling in a little hen and watching her walk by on my first hunt late this spring in Cortland, NY, season closed and I tucked my camo deep into my closet and slid the sundresses to the front. Summer began with blue skies, blue crabs, and bluefish. It eased into fall, bursting with blueberries and a blue moon. All the while I couldn’t get that little blue head bobbing amongst the buttercups off my mind!

I had put in my time off request weeks in advance and circled the date in red marker so many times on my desk blotter that it had seeped through to the following months. October 1st: opening day for NY fall turkey season. Rhonda (my beloved 12 gauge Mossberg 535) was clean and ready to go by Labor Day weekend and I was counting the days. That’s when I heard from my friend Britney that she could not go hunting with me again in Cortland. Now I began to worry. Living in New York City I didn’t know any other hunters, and didn’t have permission to hunt on any other private land. I met a deer hunter in NJ and a upland bird hunter in MA but my Empire State turkey was not looking so good. Just as I began scouring the public land maps of southern NY I received an email out of the blue from a friend of Britney’s, a hunter named Luke from Maine, who said he would like to take me hunting. I accepted, but figured I would set a friendly challenge: scout me an opening day turkey, and it’s a date.

The morning finally came of opening day came and I hate to say I had the guy a little nervous. He had been scouting the week prior and hadn’t seen any birds. We drove through the back roads around Schoharie county and his eyes scanned every grassy ridge and cornfield like a hawk. After an unsuccessful stalk on a group of birds we came across another flock in a field we did not have permission to hunt on. We called it quits for the day and unloaded our guns. Day two called for gloomy skies as we drove the same routes, seeing even less birds. I wondered if I would ever hear the rip of a filled tag when we came to a stop. The untouchable flock from the previous day was now on the other side of the road on a different piece of property. A quick knock on a door and it was time to get cluckin’. We stalked up the side of the sloping field coming above a half dozen hens. At about 45 yards I could barely make out the tops of their heads as they chatted amongst the tall grass. I picked one out, took a deep breath, and fired. My ears were ringing, and I saw the flock take flight. I turned to Luke, with a look of utter dismay, sure that I had missed completely. He assured me that I hit one and I didn’t believe it until I found her in some high grass a few feet away.

Courtney with her hen turkey!

When I came upon her I was in awe; she was beautiful. About 12 lbs with ink black eyes and deep brown feathers with golden tips. Her dusty blue head that had bobbed around in my dreams all summer long was the shade of the shutters on the cottages in Cape Cod…though…no longer attached to her body! We somewhat re-attached it for our photo op, but when we got back to the truck it was nowhere to be found. Just as I ripped off my tag the clouds opened up and it began to rain.

I returned to the city, now officially a hunter and placed my empty Hevi-Shot Magnum Blend 3 1/2 inch shell, tail feather, and tag on my bedroom nightstand. I thought about the delicious meal I was going to make and returned to work here at Sportsman Channel with an even deeper passion for the outdoors and the two and four legged creatures who live within it. And Luke? He’s taking me on my first duck hunt next weekend, now officially a happy sportsman couple.

Luke and Courtney


Date of Harvest: 10/2/12 (second day of gun season)

County: Schoharie

Town: Seward, NY

Firearm: Mossberg 535 12 gauge

Ammo: Hevi-Shot Magnum Blend 3.5”

Harvest: 12-14 lb hen