Westport youth R.J. King was chasing longbeards with his father, Rob, even before he could walk.
When Rob separated from his wife in the mid-1990s, he became R.J.'s full-time caregiver. That meant if he wanted to hunt, R.J. would be along in tow.
And, Rob wasn't about to give up the woods.
"I would carry him in a backpack carrier," Rob recalled. "He learned a lot about the woods at a very young age."
So, it was only fitting R.J. carried on the family tradition by bagging his first Tom during opening weekend of the spring turkey season - with his dad at the call.
"It felt awesome," 12-year-old R.J. said. "The bird looked huge on the ground."
And, indeed it wasn't small. The turkey weighed 28 pounds, had a 10-and-one-half-inch beard and one-inch spurs. A trophy by any turkey hunter's standard.
R.J. took the bird early in the morning May 3. It was a warmer than average day for early spring, R.J. recalled, as he and Rob set up and began using a crow call to entice an answer.
After awhile, the duo decided to move. The next location would prove key as Rob expertly lured the big Tom to within a few yards of his decoys with a hen call and R.J. dropped him at 10 yards.
"When he answered, he was a lot closer than we expected," R.J. said. "He was probably only 30 or 40 yards out, and dad had him to me in less than 5 minutes."
The entire hunt was over by 6:45 a.m.
The following weekend, Rob repeated the process, calling in another Tom and 14-year-old Cooper Sayward had his first longbeard as well. Cooper's bird weighed 20 pounds, had three-quarter-inch spurs and a 10-inch beard.
For Rob, the satisfaction lies in passing on his love of the hunt.