I am an admitted turkey hunting addict. But my gobbler sickness aside, I honestly believe taking children in pursuit of spring turkeys is one of the best ways to introduce them to hunting. Obviously, it has its challenges.
Over the years, I have had the privilege of taking many young hunters into the spring woods, including my twin sons Will and Drew, and have learned a few things along the way that seem to work well for kids. What is the number one lesson learned? You must make the experience fun for kids. Remember, this may be a first impression or at least a foundation for them in our great sport. If they don’t have a good time from the onset, it may tarnish their feelings about hunting permanently.
I also recommend spending some serious time scouting before you take a kid to the field. You want them to be in turkeys when they go so they can see what the sport is all about. Scout out a location where birds are using regularly, and somewhat near a roost is always best. Allowing a child to hear the woods wake up at dawn, and a big tom or two hammering off the limb before flydown will get a kid excited, no matter what the outcome of the hunt.
If being within earshot of a roost isn’t possible, setting up on or near a field that turkeys frequent is also works. Again, even if you don’t harvest a bird, the kid will have a great time if they can see birds strutting and doing what turkeys do. Now if you can find a well-used field near a roost, you are really in good shape.
I think portable blinds, like the Primos Double Bull Dark Horse, are the best piece of equipment one can have for taking youngsters turkey hunting. Until they are more experienced, you probably aren’t going to do much “running and gunning,” so picking a good spot and setting up a blind is the way to go. In a good blind, kids can sit comfortably, get away with movement, and it is just less stressful in general.
I have found that because movement is almost completely undetectable, kids can move a bit to see birds, and if a turkey comes in, they have a much better chance of maneuvering to get a shot off.
Lastly, I really like to use numerous decoys when making a setup with a child. I often use a strutting jake and two to three hen decoys. This system will often bring birds in from long distances in fields, but more importantly, when birds come in to multiple decoys, they seem to stay around longer and be very preoccupied. This goes along way with an inexperienced hunter trying to make a quality shot, especially if they are excited.
Last spring I took my boys to Texas and hunted a few days. On opening morning, Drew and I crawled in a Double Bull about 300 yards from a known roost. We were welcomed with a symphony of gobbles, and after 30 minutes I called in a lone tom. He strutted around my decoys within 20 yards for over nine minutes before he stood still long enough for Drew to get a good head shot. The system worked to a “T” and is a memory that I know both of us will cherish forever.
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