Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend

Youth TurkeyVERMONT - Youth hunting weekends are a staple to Vermont's hunting landscape. From Deer to Turkey's, youth hunters age 15 and younger, are given a chance to pursue their quarry the weekend before the season opens for adults. But youth weekends also provide an opportunity for youth and mentor to grow closer and create lasting memories.

The last weekend of April kicked off Vermont's annual youth turkey hunt. I was able to follow a pair that had been youth turkey hunting together for the past four years and each year they had been successful. Hunter Baker, the youth hunter that I acccompanied, and his mentor, Kyle Johnson, wanted to make it a perfect five for five.

When we got into the woods, before daylight, it was apparent that there were plenty of turkey's in the area, as gobbles rang out far and wide. And once light began to creep onto the field we were set up in, everything started to fall into place. About half an hour after daylight, the turkey's that we were hunting flew down into the field, not more than 30 yards from our decoys. This came as a surprise, "actually I thought they were going to walk out" Johnson said. The birds had sounded like they were much farther away as we had listened to them before they came down from the tree were had roosted in. "When I saw those hens fly out in front of us, they were only 30 yards away from us when we were setting up, I got a little scared. But when that tom flew out I knew that he was going to do something different" said Johnson.

It was a group of five turkeys, three hens and two toms. The hens and one of the toms were to our left, while the other tom was off to our right. This one was the bird that Baker wanted to take. Thanks to some coaxing from Johnson's mouth call, the tom worked his way into range. Baker readied himself for the shot "I just had to stay calm and make sure I had my eye on the one I wanted" he said. He made a perfect shot and the tom dropped to the ground. 

They had done it, a perfect five for five was reached. The two worked together like a well oiled machine, Johnson said of Baker. "I've never seen a kid shoot so well. He's the best hunter, for his age, that I've ever seen." They demonstrated the type of connection that only comes from knowing your partner really well. Another memory that they got to share together, and I was lucky enough to have gotten to go along for the ride. Baker said, "Very thankful that I have someone like him that can take me out. And I can always go into the hunt confident."

Youth hunting gives the younger generation a chance to harvest their animal before the adults. But I would argue, after witnessing Johnson and Baker in action, that it's most important aspect are the lessons that are learned and the connections that are made. "No this is perfect. Perfect way to end a great youth weekend with him. I wouldn't want to take anyone else" said Johnson.