2013 PA Mentored Youth Turkey Hunt

Saturday April 20th was mentored youth spring turkey hunt in Pennsylvania; one day only. My 6-year-old son, Grant Snavely, had been practicing with his new Remington 11-87 and was confident that he would tag a longbeard during his first spring gobbler hunt. We started off in the morning well before daylight and we were surprised at how quiet it was; not a single gobble on the roost. We decided to run and gun and approximately a quarter-mile into our trek my short series of cuts and yelps from my mouth call were immediately interrupted by several gobbles. As we scrambled for a tree to set up the turkeys continued to gobble aggressively on their own; closing the gap in a hurry.

Within 10 minutes three longbeards were within shotgun range but Grant wasn’t comfortable with his shot. There was too much brush between him and the gobblers. We decided to allow the gobblers to work their way out of range and attempt to cut them off with an entirely new set up. However, it was obvious that the excitement and close gobbling action had Grant hooked and ready for more. Within a few minutes a 6 year old boy went from hungry and bored to “feeling a little nervous” as two gobblers closed the gap. Although the gobblers had hens with them they were more than willing to come in on a string and leave the hens 100 yards or more downhill.

After a few more attempts to get back on those birds we decided to head back to Drop-Tine Farms in Bloomsburg, PA, and see what we could find. After jumping out of the truck we walked up a field edge and during my second series of aggressive cuts, a couple gobbles cut me off. Again, setting up with Grant took a little bit of time and patience without the aid of a ground blind…all while one mouthy longbeard closed the gap…in a hurry. I hurriedly stuck a single hen decoy along the field edge and he gobbled again. All of the action was being recorded on film by my good friend, and aspiring cameraman, Tim Kocher. Unfortunately, in the excitement and mad rush to get set up before the longbeard climbed in our laps I forgot to turn my wireless mic on! I also forgot to make sure Grant’s right thumb (he’s a lefty) was clear of the operating handle on his 11-87 (right handed gun!). His thumb took a pounding as the gun ejected the shell…causing a some bloodshed and resulting in a battle scar he won’t soon forget.

imageWhen the longbeard finally stepped in a clearing in the field I estimated him to be close to 40 yards but told Grant if he was comfortable with the shot to go ahead and squeeze nice and easy. Within seconds the compact 11-87 .20 gauge recoiled against Grant’s tiny shoulder and the gobbler rolled over backwards as I ejected from my seat against a cherry tree. I still laugh at my sorry attempt to run to that gobbler with sore legs from propping grant up and stabilizing his arms…and then my attention shifts to my 6 year old running right behind dad after his first longbeard. The next day I returned to the kill site and ranged back to the tree we sat by: 38 yards. Grant’s grip and grin pictures are a sure sign that he’s very proud of his accomplishment but two days later dad’s grin still extends from ear to ear; not just from the wonderful memory of Grant’s first kill but also from the thought of how many more successful hunts are in the pipeline for two new hunting buddies.

Congratulations Grant, dad couldn’t be more proud!

I’d like to say a special thanks to our friend (and cameraman/videographer) and Grant’s newest mentor, Tim Kocker of Bloomsburg, PA. Thanks buddy…thanks for rising early one more time this spring than you had to, and thanks for recording my favorite hunt to date.

Jason R. Snavely, CWB
Certified Wildlife Biologist
Drop-Tine Wildlife Consulting
(570) 204-4064 Cell
Tecomate Associate Consultant


Posted by Jason Snavely

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