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Turkey Youth Seasons

Last year I was able to get all three of my grandchildren a shot at a turkey.  But wait, they are using shotguns and this is a bowhunting website.  What gives??? I chose this topic specifically because killing a longbeard, even a jake, with a bow is a tremendous challenge.  Each of my boys was successful, yet each one missed a turkey at 15 yards with a shotgun and a rest.  Point is, get them successful and excited and then ease them into the archery game.

With gun or bow, introduce a youngster through a ground blind.

Blind Are Wonderful-

I run and gun in the Great Plains each year and may put in 10 miles in a day.  That is fun, but I enjoy waiting, listening, and videoing turkeys on my small farm just as much.  I have my blind set up 10 days ahead and have it stocked with a chair asnd decoys prior to the opening day so that all I have to do is show up with my crossbow and rest.  Hearing shotguns boom in the distance makes me nervous, yet I’m confident that an old tom will come slipping by the blind.

Black is the best camo pattern for a blind.

Men in Black

I have some pretty cool camouflage that will blend with about any background or weather condition, like snow, yet the best color to wear in a blind is black.  You want your blind to be as dark as possible on the inside so that a gobbler can’t see inside.  Be extra careful with the new see-through models as they allow light to penetrate the blind and a gobbler can see any movement through your shooting window.

Keep new hunters warm and well-fed.

Make it a Picnic-

When I was a school principal, I never had a teacher’s meeting without donuts.  Even the grumpy ones smile with a snack in their fingers.  Kids are the same way.  If it’s cold, have a thermos of hot chocolate and bring hand warmers.  You want quiet snacks, not potato chips, but have lots of them and let them pick out their treats the night before.  You want them to be part of the plan.  If the day turns cold and rainy, head for a convenience store, warm up, and come back.

Decoys allow you to predict where turkeys will approach.

Use Decoys-

in six years, I’ve never had a turkey ignore this decoy.  Turkeys have been killed and missed while flogging it.  Jakes hate it, and Longbeards too.  The decoy allows me to have a small shooting window because I know where the turkey will be.  For youngsters, this allows you to set up a tripod rest with the crossbow or shotgun locked in.  In this way, the youngster can make a very accurate shot.  If the bird is strutting, use a diaphragm caller and make a “puck” which will cause the tom to raise its head.

A strutting turkey is half feathers and a difficult target.

Where Do I Aim?-

These pictures are my favorite when introducing youngsters or those new to turkey hunting.  A wild turkey has an incredibly small kill zone for a bow and arrow, tiny when compared to the heart/lung area of a deer.  Remember that this turkey will be less than 20 yards away, maybe gobbling, and attacking a decoy.  How can we expect a young hunter to keep his/her cool during all of this action?  Even if you are developing a bowhunter, it’s fine to take a tom with a .410 or 20-gauge shotgun and progress from there.

You will know your youngster is ready for prime time when he/she can burn bulls-eyes and score on a 3-D target.

Practice on a 3-D Decoy

Every prospective archery turkey hunter should practice on a 3-D target.  Whether with crossbow, compound, or recurve hitting the exact spot is critical for a clean ethical kill.  I’ve heard many hunters say that, “turkeys were made to be killed with shotguns” which translates to a lack of success with archery gear.  An arrow will kill a turkey cleanly, but you must be very patient and paint the tiniest of targets. “Aim small, miss small” has never been more relevant.  Finally, make sure your kids have fun in the youth season.  Be safe, teach them the sounds of the forest, and you’ll have hunting companions for the rest of your life.



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