The first successful hunt my son went on was a turkey hunt. He was ten years old. When the shot was fired from his 20 gauge and the bird went down, you would have thought he had just won the lotto or been drafted by the Detroit Tigers; he was that excited! I have hunted big game across North America and from the time my son was born, I always thought that turkey hunting would be the hunting sport I introduced him to first. Below are five reasons I decided to take him turkey hunting before I introduced him to deer hunting.
The success rate when turkey hunting is extremely high, which is one of the main reasons adults enjoy turkey hunting. Let’s face it: we all love to deer hunt. It can be fun but deer hunting is also a lot of work. Deer hunting is a lot of work and the success rate, especially when hunting on public land, is extremely low. I believe many kids get turned off by hunting in general because the first hunt they go on is a deer hunt. After a long weekend of deer hunting, many kids are ready to walk away from hunting before they ever get started. Why is this the case? Deer hunting is often a marathon. It takes a lot of time and effort to be successful. A young child doesn’t have the patience for a marathon.
They prefer a 50-yard dash. Most parents or hunting mentors who scout ahead of time will have a good idea of where turkeys are living before they take a kid hunting. If birds can be located and patterned, the odds of success are extremely high. If a young hunter fills his tag, chances are he will be hooked for life. We all enjoy being successful. Kids especially need to be successful in the field or they will quickly lose interest and go back to playing video games.
Turkey hunting is great for kids because the hunt itself is fast-paced. We live in a world full of technology. Kids are used to being on the go and being entertained. I don’t always agree with it, but it is a fact of life. Turkey hunting is a fast-paced hunt that doesn’t require kids to sit still in one place for hours like deer hunting often does. Most turkey hunters are on the go most of the day.
I usually don’t sit for more than an hour or two at a time when turkey hunting. If birds don’t respond to my calls in one area, I keep walking and calling or get in the truck and check out another hunting spot. Kids enjoy being on the go and turkey hunters who spend a lot of time covering ground in search of a Tom are often rewarded with success.
Why do most adults who turkey hunt enjoy it so much? Calling in turkeys is a lot of fun! I called in my first turkey by myself at 15 years old. The first time I yelped on my mouth call and the tom gobbled back, I was hooked for life. Forty-five minutes after the first gobble, I pulled the trigger on my 12 gauge. I will never forget walking up on the bird and wrapping my tag around his foot. Calling in a strutting tom is action-packed. The interaction between the caller and the turkey creates a lot of excitement. My son missed a turkey or two before he controlled his nerves enough to hold his gun steady. The excitement of calling in a turkey can rattle the nerves of kids and adults.
Young hunters can quickly become decent callers and call in their own birds, which adds even more fun to the hunt.
Turkey hunting is extremely affordable. Next to small game hunting, turkey hunting is probably the least expensive hunt out there. My son’s first turkey tag cost me $7.50! Many kids start out turkey hunting with an inexpensive single shotgun. A box or two of shells won’t break the bank either.
Turkey hunting out of state isn’t expensive. In fact, the first longbeard my son ever killed was killed in another state. I have turkey hunted in a dozen or more states. In fact, it is my favorite critter to hunt out of state and my son has caught the bug. If you take a kid on an out-of-state deer hunt, it will cost a lot of money and the odds of success are fairly small. If you take a kid turkey hunting out-of-state, the cost of the hunt is minimal and the odds of success are high. In fact, many states offer an early youth season which helps stack the odds in a kids’ favor. We all enjoy going on out-of-state hunts and kids do too! Hunting somewhere you have never been is fun and will result in lasting memories you and your kids will never forget!
Last but not least, one of the greatest reasons to introduce a kid to turkey hunting before deer hunting is because they will get to experience the satisfaction that comes from eating what they kill. Some kids don’t want to eat wild game but because most kids are accustomed to eating turkey, they will eat wild turkey. My son’s face was glowing the first time he sat down at the dinner table and realized that he provided dinner for the entire family. Instilling in kids that eating wild game is a big part of the reason we hunt while they are young is important. Eating a wild turkey that they killed is a great way for them to fully understand why we hunt.
Taking a kid turkey hunting can be extremely rewarding. Yes, it does require a healthy dose of patience. Yes, it might require some work and a lot of effort. But, like anything in life, you will get out of it what you put into it and so will your child! Helping a kid get their first turkey is something they will never forget.
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