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Final youth weekend

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  • Final youth weekend

    It was the Fitch household’s last ever youth weekend and we closed it out with opportunity but no bang.

    Up Saturday at 5:15 and on the hill just as it was starting to get light. Both kids heard one sounding off the roost, when we reached the top of the meadow I let out a few yelps on the Lynch box and had an immediate response. We set up against the trees and gave it a few minutes before calling again and having him answer once more. The Kid got in on the calling hearing the bird gobble on the ground. He came close enough that I heard him again once but then he shut up. It wasn’t long and we started hearing clucks up behind us. Next thing five hens are 30 yards out looking for us.

    Not seeing what they’re expecting the hens decide to start scratching their way back from where they came. Within minutes we hear a loud gobble coming from down below. It isn’t long and three jakes are running it straight up at us from our left. I hit the box and they stop to synchronize gobble, actually pulling it off like mature toms. They’re on a string and I tell the girl to get the gun up and safety off as they’re almost in range. She does and they keep coming, turning slightly to cross right in front of us. I tell her to make sure one is clear of the others, they separate almost on cue and I wait for it. And wait, and wait… I ask why she didn’t shoot and she answers she wasn’t ready and doesn’t want to shoot the first thing that walks by..


    The birds circle up behind us still looking. After about 10-15 minutes they keep heading up in the direction the first birds did. We throw out some calls and get responses but I can’t see anything. Eventually I see one and pull up the binos, it’s the long beard in full strut about 50 yards out. Later on the Kid tells me he was there most of the time strutting for the hens and keeping the jakes at bay. Like typical turkeys the hens keep feeding along until they drift off deeper in the woods. We decide to take a break and head down for breakfast.




    Last edited by fitch270; 04-24-2022, 12:39 PM.

  • #2
    After breakfast we head back up and I decide we’ll sit in between our two main spots. Problem is as we round the bend to the lower corner the birds are already there. I see one turn and a beard swing out, then a second bird about ten feet away that appears to be a hen. They don’t see me so I ease back to my daughter who’s still out of view. We sit tight and wait a few minutes to see where they’re headed. I can peek up and make them out over the little rise between us. Seems they’re content to feed where they are so I let out a couple clucks and get another answer. I peek again and see three birds headed down. Except they’re all hens. I continue to watch them but can’t see the original two. I call again but this time I get clucks up to the right in the woods. The other hen ain’t having it and she’s headed out. I tell the Kid to sneak downhill and start calling hoping between us we can make something happen. The hen keeps clucking back but going away. Meantime the other three hens are bored with the noise and go back to feeding, eventually working their way into the woods towards the other two.

    We give it a few then try to loop up around to get in front of them or maybe run into the jakes again but they’ve all disappeared. About 11:30 we call it a day.

    After lunch I talk with my daughter in front of my wife and the girl finally admits out loud she was afraid of wounding one and not catching up with it. The bird from two years ago and last fall’s buck weighing on her mind. I tell her it’s ok, she did the right thing if she wasn’t confident in the shot and that she’d have other opportunities, we have the entire regular season coming up. I also remind her of how well she did this season in rifle league and that she’s perfectly capable of making that shot. I’m thinking that coming straight out with what was going on in her mind was the best thing for her.



    • #3
      So after yesterday morning the Kid and I had plans to go watch some dirt track racing with my old race bud. We head out at 2:30 for an hour and a half ride to the track to get there early, they’re running a special double feature opening night for big block modifieds. It turns out to be a long night and we don’t get home until 1:30 this morning.

      At 5:15am the alarm goes off after maybe 3 1/2 hours sleep. I roll out of bed determined not to let her down and her bedroom light is already on. The Kid already told me he wasn’t getting up. Sundays we generally head for church just after 8:00 so to get ready in time will mean a short hunt.

      I lead us up to the middle spot again in case the birds are lower this morning. We set up in silence but get an answer as soon as I throw out some yelps. Sounds like yesterday’s tom in about the same spot. He answers again off the roost and then later sounding like he’s on the ground. Then we get another bird going lower in front, except this one is obviously a jake. The jake keeps it up for awhile and sounds like he’s moving but not at us. Things get quiet so we wait it out a bit. A bit before 7:00 it’s decision time; head down or make a move at them. I figure we should split the difference, we move toward the house but up along the bottom edge of the meadow between the sounds of the two birds. We get to where I can see most of the meadow and let out a few clucks on my mouth call. My daughter points up the hill but I can’t hear it. I ask her if it sounds like they’re up high or around the back side. She says she thinks they’re around the back. I figure it won’t hurt to move up some and try calling again before cresting over to the back side.

      Except as we break up to the top corner that I couldn’t see there they are. Not that far away but the lay of the land or direction the tom was facing making it so I couldn’t pick up the response. Maybe a combination of both. Same exact sport we caught them last year but couldn’t get a shot when they came down over to us on the back. I make out 6-8 birds with one baseball looking head in the middle all shuffling for the woods. Nervous but not panicked. Still, we know it’s finished for the morning. With a fist bump we head for the house.

      My daughter turns 16 this summer. After this coming turkey season she’ll be able to hunt without me if she wants.


      • #4
        Great posts Fitch. I felt part of the story and enjoyed the way you related it. Thank you.

        Neither of my two kids wanted to hunt. But I have another chance with Babe's three girls. She said yesterday that I'll probably be the one to teach them how to hunt. Ages 9-11


        • #5
          Awesome fitch.
          This is what it's all about.
          The woods, hunting, family and friends.
          Stories and memories.

          Thanks for sharing. 😃


          • #6
            Restoring confidence can be very difficult when there isn't a wealth of experiences to draw confidence back from. Takes time. I would suggest both turkey and deer life size paper targets such as archers use. Practice at distances needed to prove to your daughter she is up to it. But not too much at any one day so you don't wear her out or cause any shoulder discomfort. The more effort YOU put in, taking time to set up shooting from a popup instead of a bench for instance, the fewer doubts her subconscious will allow to enter.
            Tough first season,best luck in the upcoming general.
            Please tell me she isn't toting a 3-1/2" 12ga. 🙏🏼


            • #7
              "... Please tell me she isn't toting a 3-1/2" 12ga. 🙏🏼 ..."

              Nah, dewman. I think he's got her on a 3.5" 10 gauge Mangle'um with high velocity #2's! LOL! 😉😃


              • #8
                She’s using a 20ga with Remington 3” Nitro Turkey loads, 1 1/4oz of 5’s @ 1185.


                Recoil chart shows 31 ft/lbs of energy in a 6 1/2lb gun. Her’s might weigh 6lbs all up. 😳


                In the target photo the one on the left was two shots at ten yards with some cheap 7.5 shot Winchester Universal Target loads, I’d mounted the red dot back on and had picked up a new Primos Tightwad choke. She shot a couple of the target loads at 10 yards to get it zeroed before shooting those two. We then moved back to twenty five yards and she shot the one on the right with one Remington shell. Looked good enough to me.

                One thing we’d worked in last year was her ejecting and re chambering another round. I noticed she’d forgotten to work the slide hard and fast and reminded her to do so, adding to move her hand farther forward on the slide. She told me I’d have to take the stock spacer back out so she could reach it easier.


                I’d added the spacer to get it to fit her in a standing position, it hadn’t occurred to me that when seated the shorter LOP was easier to handle. I should have realized that, her brother likes his youth 20 stock set up for turkeys with the spacer in it. Thing is he’s 6” taller with a longer reach. The spacer came out of hers, I’ll put it back in this fall for upland birds when I remove the red dot again. She knows to be careful about hitting herself in the nose with her trigger hand when she shoots it.


                • #9
                  So Saturday morning the Kid was not only helping to call but was using our camera. He set up just behind us on our left but was facing almost perpendicular to our backs. He enjoyed using our new camera and wants to continue carrying it. We’re liking the photo quality but I’m noticing a significant loss of definition when the pics are up loaded. Or downloaded, whatever it is you do with them to share.

                  He got these as the birds cut in behind us. You can see her gun still up and me turned toward her on the right side. It’s about now I’m asking her why she didn’t shoot. I already knew the answer but wanted her to say it. Odd thing was she was as calm as could be.

                  Dewman; Good idea on the paper targets, in fact I may do one better and get some of the photo Shoot-N-See targets for extra emphasis. I have some outline targets I make copies of but they aren’t near as impressive looking. Also, she doesn’t need reminding she cleaned my clock the last half of our league this year. To her credit she’s kind to the old man about it.






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