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As opening day approaches, I have to say that turkey hunting in the spring is one of the best traditional introductions to the sport of hunting for our youth. One of the biggest issues we face within our hunting world today is the declining amount of people heading to the woods to hunt. I’m no expert by any means, but my main focus is always about getting someone passionate about hunting no matter what their age! Hunting at an early age is a good way to put our youth on a great track for a lifetime of hunting.
My dad got me hooked on hunting when I was very young. Taking us to deer camps and quail hunting, hog hunting, rattle snake hunting or if it was just camping and fishing, life in the outdoors was very important in our household. Today, my husband and I have taken both of our sons hunting and they love it as much as we do. I’ve included a short video of their 2014 Spring turkey hunt!
Seeing any youth excited about hunting is great, watching your very own children harvest their first turkey, deer or elk is immeasurable. They too get a neat feeling knowing they have provided food for the family.
There are organizations you can involve a youth in for example, the National Wild Turkey Federation has the JAKES program. JAKES stands for Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship. Some states have Youth turkey camps as well.
Once you’ve decided to take a kid hunting for the first time, preparation is key. Here are a few things we have learned to help us on our youth hunts.
-Teach them what to wear and why it’s important to wear camo clothing.
-Teach them about the birds and their habitats, show them where they roost.
-Let them play with some box calls, take them to scout for gobblers. Get them excited!!
-If they are going to be shooting at a turkey this season, be sure they have a weapon they are comfortable and have practiced with. It can be a little intimidating for anyone, youth are no exception.
-Get them interested in the hunt itself. Make them feel more involved in the process as opposed to just tagging along. For instance, if you are going to set up a ground blind, have them help clear the leaves so you can be quiet on opening morning, they’ll be more into it.
-Have them practice aiming at a decoy out in the field so they know what to see and expect.
-Not every kid is willing to sit for hours, take that into consideration and more than anything, be patient and make this a great experience for them.
-If you are not comfortable taking them on your own, chose a reputable guide, this will make for a pleasant first hunting experience and that youth will want to go again!
Taking our boys was such a fun experience, I will never forget both of their first turkey hunts and I promise, they won’t either!
Getting a kid interested in hunting isn’t tough. Talk to them about your turkey hunting experiences, show them your pictures of your turkey hunts. Whatever you do, don’t ever force them to go. A good way to ensure an enjoyable experience is to wait until they ask to go or maybe just a simple invite to go with you is all you need. Kids are curious and will eventually want to see what it is that dad or mom does when they go out into the woods in search of a Tom.
Mentor a youth on a hunt this Spring! A turkey hunt would be fun and exciting for them to experience, you never know who you might inspire to be the hunters of our future, and we sure do need them!!
Good luck to all of you that are headed out into the turkey woods this spring. Please be safe and more than anything be sure to have fun!!