We awoke earlier than normal and made our way to the Predator Den blind well before daylight. We sat there hunkered down awaiting the morning light for what seemed like forever. Then there it was. The roar of that old tom’s gobble cut through the crisp morning air and practically scared me out of my seat. And with the very same excitement I was trying to keep held inside-my son blurted out “Wow, dad that turkey is close!!!” I quickly replied with a “shhhh” and explained we must remain quiet but it was too late. The bird never did show up for his usual morning stroll. My son and I sat there awhile enjoying the warmth of the sunrise while playing with our assortment of turkey calls. Despite walking out empty handed I had a blast with my son that morning and look forward to many more with him.
I enjoy taking kids hunting every year. Aaron and I have had many successful hunts during Missouri’s youth season and I encourage you to try your hand at taking a youngster to the outdoors this year. Whether its your child tagging along to observe the hunt or a youth out with his first tag, it is just as rewarding for you as it is them. Here are a few tips that might help you at this game of little league turkey hunting.
First– Do some recruiting. See who wants to play the game. If they don’t want to go don’t force them. But don’t give up hope on them either. Talk casually about it in front of them whenever the opportunity arises. Repetitive, genuine excitement about a subject is usually what it takes to get someone curious enough to ask a few questions. Then you can set your hook.
Second–Watch some game film. My game film of choice is Cabela’s Spring Thunder. It’s full of hunting action and information on how to turkey hunt. It’ll give them a good idea of how the hunt in general is going to go. Well, hopefully going to go.
Third–Have a little practice. You need to pattern that shotgun anyway so ask if they want to tag along. This is a great time to go over what will be expected of them during the hunt and to learn about gun safety. For instance, my four year old knows exactly where to move behind me so he is safe in the blind, yet can still see the entire “show”. If you recruited someone old enough to do the shooting then this is a good time to practice out of a blind. Get them familiar with shooting sticks and explain how a possible scenario could play out when hunting.
Fourth–Do some pregame scouting. It’s always good to get a little intel on the competition. If you’ve got young children, early morning scouting trips are one of the easiest ways to get them excited. They love to hear turkeys gobble and try to pinpoint the direction from which it came. Just park the truck and roll the windows down. I don’t have to get my son out of the booster seat to have a good morning, but if I have extra time we’ll go for short walks. He loves looking for tracks in the mud.
Fifth–Let them swing away. Put a call in a youngsters hand and help them make that bird gobble. Give them a friction call several days before season and teach them the basics. For the older kids this will give them some time alone to practice without an audience. Then while your out hunting you can fine tune the details. As for the younger kids hopefully it will cure their itch to want to mess with your calls every second you are out there in the woods.
Sixth–Get into uniform. Every kid I’ve taken hunting has managed to find a camo shirt and pants stuffed into the far corners of their bottom dresser drawer. But what they never have are gloves, hat, or a head net. Make sure you have a loaner for them or take them to your nearest Cabela’s and let them pick one out. This will give them something tangible from that first hunt and a tool to use on the next. While you’re there you can run them through some equipment and explain how it works. Just be careful not to overwhelm them with information. Let them ask questions and that will make it fun.
Seventh–Execute your strategy. It’s always good to have a game plan when taking younger kids. I love the old run and gun method but something about having a preplanned setup makes the younger kids feel more comfortable. Set up a blind before opening day. I also prefer to place it some distance away from the birds. That way your youngster can get away with some movement and see the birds coming instead of turkeys sneaking into your setup. Having a good Axian X strutter decoy will prove invaluable for pulling birds in from a distance and will take the focus off the youth hunter as you ready them for a shot.
Eighth– It’s all about having fun. There are times to hot foot it around a ridge top, or hurry across the creek but this is not it.
The drive and desire that pushes you forward has not had time to get a grip on them yet. I would cross a waist deep creek, jog across an 80 acre field, then crawl 300 yards down a muddy ditch for a chance at a long beard. But lead a kid on a that sort of wild goose chase and they will never want to go again. Wait until they first taste success then they will be willing to work harder to achieve it the next time. Winning is contagious.
Ninth–Not everyone loves the game. It’s that simple. Some will feel the same rush you do when a long beard appears but others may not. Don’t let that ruin the opportunity to show a kid the outdoors. If they don’t show interest in turkey hunting maybe it’s time to see if the fish are biting. Or maybe some morels are starting to pop up out of the ground. Maybe something a little faster paced such as skeet shooting would be up their ally.
It is absolutely necessary that we do our part to create and build a love for the outdoors in today’s youth. So they will have a desire to protect and conserve the bountiful supply of outdoor activities we have in this great nation.
Little League Turkey Hunting was last modified: January 27th, 2017 by Bill Winke