April 25, 2002 11:00 pm

Colby Lankford is just 9 years old, but he already has a hunting experience that his grandchildren will be amazed to hear decades from now.

The Greenwood Elementary School fourth-grader enjoyed a turkey hunting debut on April 15 that few can match.

Colby was 45 minutes into the first turkey hunt of his life when he bagged a 16-pound turkey — with a bow.

Colby, the son of Craig and Trina Lankford, hit his bird 10 yards away in the Mount Emily area.

He was accompanied by his father, who called the bird in.

"I was more excited than he was,'' Craig Lankford said.

The fourth-grader took the bird on the first day of turkey season at 5:30 p.m.

The bird Colby took was with six other turkeys. His shot did not scare off the other birds because it made little noise.

Craig Lankford had his son remain still for several minutes after taking the turkey. He hoped to take one of the other turkeys that had come in and didn't want to scare any of them away.

None of the birds came within striking distance. After several minutes Craig knew that his son could not wait any longer and let him run to the turkey.

Taking a turkey with a bow is a noteworthy challenge because the excellent vision the bird has. The eyesight allows turkeys to quickly detect motion. Bow hunters face a stiff challenge because turkeys scatter when they see the motion caused by drawing a bowstring, Craig Lankford said.

Hunters must draw their bowstring back when turkeys are turned away or are in brush. Colby pulled his bow back when the turkey was coming out of brush.

Craig Lankford, who teaches at Greenwood Elementary School, took his first turkey with a bow two years ago at age 36.

"I told him (Colby) that he already has me beat,'' Craig Lankford said.

Several days after April 15 the father-son team had another eventful moment while hunting in another part of the Mount Emily area. Craig was calling for turkeys when a bear was drawn in. The bear came within 80 yards of the Lankfords before retreating.

"It turned around about as quickly as it came in,'' Craig Lankford said.

— Dick Mason