12 YEAR OLD BRECK BREEN'S FIRST TURKEY
FIRST TURKEY HUNT IS A SUCCESS
“I think you are more excited than Breck about tomorrow’s turkey hunt,” my wife said to me last Friday night. She was referring to my taking 12 year old Breck Breen, Wilton out for his first wild turkey hunt. Last weekend, April 20 and 21 had been set aside as the Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend for licensed junior in NYS, ages 12-15. They had to be accompanied by an adult and they were allowed to take one bearded turkey. Breck’s dad Tim, who was a bit under the weather, asked me if I would take him out; and I jumped at the chance.
I know that Tim had been grooming his son to all aspects of the outdoors and that included gun safety, hunting and marksmanship; first with a Crosman air gun and then with a .22 and lastly a shotgun. I found out that he had shown some of his good shooting abilities off during his NYS 4H Shooting Sports Hunter Education course breaking a few clay birds; so I figured he would be ready for the turkey hunt.
My plan was to register him in the Sharp Spurs Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation that included a tremendous cook out with all the trimmings along with some friendly competition and prizes for all the 51 kids that signed up for this ‘free’ contest. When I told my friend, Mike Galcik, Schuylerville about my young hunter he volunteered some of his hot spots providing I take an oath of secrecy; which I did.
Early the next morning I received a text message and a photo of 3 strutting toms from Mike that said: “Have Breck pick one.” And when I spoke to him later in the day we decided to put a ground blind up the next afternoon. However that part of the plan did not work; because when we were going to put the blind up the hedgerow of the field we found it with about 20 turkeys. Now I think it was about this time on Friday that I started to get really excited.
After dinner on Friday Breck and I headed for the range to pattern and punch some holes in life size turkey head targets. It was a short shoot, because Breck’s 3 shots from that little 20 gauge Youth Model 500 Mossberg at 22 yards put more than enough pellets in the neck head area to drop any turkey. He was definitely ready.
I never heard the alarm go off at 3 a.m.; because I awoke at 2:30 a.m. and started getting ready. I did wonder what the effects of all torrential downpour and extremely high winds would have on the birds. Wild turkeys spend the night roosting in trees holding on to the branch with their feet; so it had to be a see-saw wet ride for them.
Breck and my enthusiasm had us sitting in Mike’s driveway at least a half hour earlier than are 5 a.m. meeting time but it went quickly and we loaded up all our gear in Mike’s truck. It was windy, cold and slightly drizzling but when we heard that gobble just as we were getting out of the truck at our destination, we all warmed up.
Entering the field a good distance down from where the birds were roosting we hugged the edge of a hedgerow making our way to a setup point near where the turkeys usually go by in the morning. Mike set up about 15 yards behind us and when it started to get light he began to answer the already talking toms up on the hill. It was about 15 minutes when Breck whispered: “Here comes one.” It was definitely a tom and on several occasions would display his fan and do a little strutting. He was headed straight for us. Breck sat perfectly still with his cheek frozen to the stock of his shotgun; and he never moved. Unfortunately despite Mike’s good calling the real thing (3 hens) appeared and a few yelps from them turned him in their direction. It is hard to beat the real thing. And it wasn’t long before we watched the entire flock cross the paved road entering another field.
Quickly we packed up and back tracked down the field, across the road and up to a ridge where we hoped would put us ahead of them; and it worked. Breck and Mike set up just overlooking the ridge where below them were several toms. Mike quickly got Breck setup and started to talk to the birds; but although they occasional gobbled a response they had no intention of leaving their harem. Finally they moved off, back across the road exactly where they had crossed earlier. “If we hunt tomorrow,” Mike said, “we will set up early right there where they had crossed.”
TIME TO MOVE
It was only a short ride to the next spot. We had only walked about 300 yards down a farm road when we caught a glimpse of turkeys in a field. Quickly we set up in a hedgerow and Mike started to calling; and within minutes he was getting responses from the tom. But all they did was talk; and he too had no intention of leaving his ladies. We did get some far off gobbles but it would require spooking the birds in the field so we headed back to the truck.
The next stop was only about 15 minutes away and again we started down a farm road that ended at an old cornfield. Setting up at the corner, Mike said he expected turkeys to be at the back of the field feeding and when he made his first yelp call that is exactly where the gobble came from. For a while the caller and the gobbler talked but his reluctance to come to us told us he was “henned up.” But just as we were about to go to him, out pops a mature yelping and clucking hen. Now we had live bait.
We sat still watching and let her do the calling and she was getting responses from one or maybe two gobblers. However once she disappeared into the woods we had to move and get in front of her hoping the gobbler would follow. And he did.
Once we got in front of her, and we could hear her continuing to yelp, we quickly set up in a small overgrown green field about 50 yards into the woods from the farm road. Things started to happen fast beginning with the hen who yelped her way past us; and with the help of Mike’s calling the two of them had what sounded like not one but two toms following.
I was amazed at how calm Breck was during all this excitement; quite unusual for a 12 year old on his first turkey hunt. Another hen passed us quickly and within minutes the thundering gobbles were very close. However there were two of them as we expected. Unfortunately they were about 50 plus yards out; and a bit too far for the 20 gauge. Each time they started to move off Mike talked them back in but not close enough; and eventually the disappeared gobbling responses to Mike’s calls as they moved off.
Moving time again and from the climb up this steep ridge following a young man and a 12 year old I realized I was a 68 year old; but they were kind and waited on the top for me to catch up. Moving along the edge of the field we would stop and make a few calls and it wasn’t long before we got another response. Another quick setup and from the gobbler’s responses he was coming straight two us.
I was sitting behind Breck and Mike waiting to turn on my movie camera when next to me, standing no more than 30 yards were 2 gobblers announcing their presence. These may have been the two that stayed out of range down below. I dare not move or they surely would have seen me; but when I looked at Breck he was right on them. It seemed longer than it really was before Breck pulled the trigger and I watch the tom fold. This little hunter had shot his first tom wild turkey and his smile stretched from ear to ear. High 5s were definitely in order and both Mike and I were extremely happy. Definitely a GREAT hunt. For me this hunt is the very best one I have ever been on.
The gobbler weighed in at 15 pounds and carried a 4 3/4 inch beard and you can see it and a smiling Breck Breen if you click on this link to my BLOG http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=4811742045506221910#editor/target=post;postID=7893723070742898833;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=0;src=postname
But our day was not over. After thanking Mike for all his help we headed for Auriemma’s house to register Breck’s tom. It was a packed house of camo clad kids and adults when we arrived. The final count was 51 youth hunters; which is outstanding. And I believe 15 of them shot a tom; and I saw three twenty pounders, any of which, I would like to see in my sights on May 1. Once again the Mike and Michele Auriemma did a tremendous job. The food was good and there was plenty of it and all the kids left with 3 prizes. THANK YOU Mike and Michele and all those sponsors and helpers.