by Cole Daniels
As hunter participation continues to drop, it is more important than ever to introduce youngsters to hunting. Turkey hunting is one of the best ways to get them involved. Scent is a non-factor and absolute silence isn't necessary. However, there are a few simple steps that can make a young person's first turkey hunt more enjoyable.
Prepare For The Hunt
A successful hunt starts well before the alarm clock ever goes off. Be sure to scout the area you plan to hunt. No one can guarantee birds will be present for the actual hunt but if you can eliminate some areas where turkeys are not likely to be and put together a handful of potential spots, you will be ahead of the game. When prepping your field bag, be sure to pack plenty of food and drink. Snacks like granola bars and dried fruit are great. A ground blind is also necessary equipment for young, first time turkey hunters. Ground blinds cover up movement, suppress wind, and keep hunters dry. If you're in a blind, the youngster can take a nap, eat, or play games without detection.
Avoid Trigger Shock
A friend of mine took his son turkey hunting for the first time last season. He scouted, bought a nice blind, and patterned his shotgun in preparation. The young man wasn't around for patterning and had not shot a gun since passing his hunter safety course seven months earlier. The scouting proved true and a shooting opportunity presented itself. When the kid pulled the trigger, the turkey fell in a heap and so did he. The post hunt photo is the only one I've ever seen with a young man sporting a shiner. He wasn't scarred for life but an injury like that can sour the experience. Be sure the first time hunter has an opportunity to shoot the gun they will be using within a week or two of the hunt. This will better prepare them for the moment of truth. It's also the perfect time to instruct a first time hunter on where they should aim. A friendly reminder in the blind is suggested. But that shouldn't be the first time they are told where to put the crosshairs.
The Technology Revolution
Most ten to twelve year olds like video games. For us, hunting is a way to separate ourselves from cell phones and PDAs. I encourage you to introduce your young hunter to all the elements of the hunt that connect us to the outdoors. However, a hand held video game may buy you an extra hour or two in the blind. The words "I'm bored" can be heartbreaking to those of us trying to infect our kids with the hunting bug. Make a deal with them before the hunt. Ask for two hours in the blind without the game. If the action is hot and heavy, they may forget all about video games.
Involve Them In The Strategy
Let your new turkey hunter set the decoys and don't forget a call for them. There are several push button calls on the market that make sweet turkey music and require a minimal amount of knowledge to operate effectively. If you make them feel involved and invested in the hunt, it is easier to hold their attention.
Stress safety and ethics in the field. As hunters, we want to expand our numbers but it is important that we teach newcomers the correct way to do things. If it has been a while since you've studied hunter's safety, pick up a book and take a look. Most state wildlife agencies offer them free of charge. You will pick up some good pointers to teach and just may learn something new yourself.
Introducing a new hunter to the sport can be one of the most rewarding outdoor experiences you will ever have. As a father, teaching my children new skills and watching them grow into responsible adults makes me proud. Most importantly, it gives me time to connect with them in a distraction free environment.
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