It was a exciting youth turkey season this year for several reasons. First, it's always exciting to see so many youth getting outdoors and learning something new. Secondly, it was even more special because I was able to get out with my significant other and his son for his first ever turkey hunt!
Anyone who has ever hunted turkey's knows how challenging it can be. Throw a kid who just turned ten into the mix and you just doubled your challenge when it comes to running and gunning. The excitement in turkey hunting is never ending and it's hard to calm those nerves and just be still.
The first night at camp we arrived too late to hunt so we decided to do something a little different with our eager little hunter. We decided to take him frog gigging! He was pumped up to get knee deep in mud and gig some big old frogs. Lane set off for the pond with his giggin' pole in hand and we could barely keep up. He couldn't get there fast enough. It must have been one to two minutes of him being alongside the murky bank that he immediately spotted one. Splash! Crickets! "I got him, I got him!" Lane was on the board with his first frog and this was no ordinary frog either. This was the frog of all frogs. We had never seen a frog this big. He was massive. Low and behold not even five minutes later Lane manages to gig another one of almost equal size. All we knew is that we were going to be eating good if he kept this up! Lane is now off to find his third frog running around the banks as he yells, "I'm blood thirsty!" The innocence of a child and their humor is beyond measure. We were in tears laughing so hard at how much fun he was having. His commentary was the best and a reminder of why we do these things with our youth. After several trips back and forth to the pond Lane ended up with a total of 7 frogs. Needless to say we had a happy hunter at camp.
The next morning we had a early start with a flock of turkey's that came in quick. This was Lane's first time getting to see a turkey in the wild! He was so excited it was hard to get him to stay still. He kept wanting to poke his head around wherever he could to take a look at what was going on. Turkey hunting can be action packed and this morning was no exception. Dad decides to take his son on his first army crawl through the high grass to get a closer look. Somewhere at this point one of the excited looks from dad's eager little hunting buddy was unfortunately captured by one of those eagle-eyed turkey's and they were gone! No shots were fired this morning but lots of excitement and Lane got a taste of turkey hunting and many valuable hunting lessons.
Mid afternoon we heard some gobbling off in the not so far distance so we got prepared for what may come next. Chris (Dad) sets up with his son about 30 yards away from me. I started calling for them hoping to lure these birds their way and within shooting range. The birds were about 200 yards away. From my vantage point I could see them crest the hill but the guys are positioned in a place where they can't see them coming in from their right. I'm making my best attempts to get Chris's attention with random noises to alert him to turn his body. He finally looks at me and then turns to see the birds and lets Lane know to get ready. They were now moving in our direction. This small flock came in over 100 yards but we could not get them to come in close enough for Lane's 410 to eat. This is hunting 101 for you.
That evening the guys set out on their own while I cleaned up camp and got us all ready to head back home for the dreaded Monday. They posted up in the woods this time in a self made blind they had built that day hoping to catch the turkey's coming in to roost. A large gobbler came in to their calls several times trying to locate them but would never get close enough for a clean shot. Night set in and that was a wrap.
No bird was taken by our youth hunter but he did learn that turkey hunting is challenging. He also learned that it can be very fun and exciting. Most of all I think he realized that hunting isn't always about being successful. A valuable lesson this day in age as we don't always win and not everyone takes home a trophy, but we always learn from our experiences. We can't wait to get back in the woods with little man and make more memories.
"Dad, can we go shoot a turkey in the face?" "I'm blood thirsty!"Lane, 10 years old
Chris and Lane as they try and close in on the flock using their Turkey Fan. This is the first time Lane has seen a turkey in the wild and he has 5 strutting Tom's within 75 yards of him!
Lane stayed busy most of the night chasing after frogs. This smile says it all after his first frog was on the pole.