2015 Learn to Hunt Youth Turkey Hunt a Success

The Clintonville chapter of Shadows on the Wolf hosted our 6th annual Learn to Hunt Turkey program.  The event was held a Blue 52 and the American Legion Post 456 building in Caroline.  Prior to hunting, the participants enjoyed time in a classroom learning about turkeys, how to hunt them, and reviewing safe hunting practices.  They then spent time at the shooting range working with their mentors on perfecting their patterns and shooting techniques.

 

The hunt took place March 28th and 29th on private land through the generous permission given to us by the many participating area landowners.  Despite the challenges of hunting in the cold and rain on Sunday, by the end of the program, 41 hunters had taken 16 birds.  Additionally, as the event wrapped up, everyone took home great memories and a new appreciation for the outdoors.  Being involved in this generously sponsored and well organized event was a thrilling experience for everyone involved. 

 

Shadows on the Wolf again hosted the United Special Sportsman’s Alliance program.  During this year’s event we shared time with 8 challenged hunters.  The U.S.S.A. group kept their end of the bargain by bringing in 4 birds.

 

We extend special thanks to Tom and Mike Mijal our event leaders.  We are thankful for Clintonville Trap Club and the work and training we were able to do there with our hunters.  We thank Mike Tuss and Dave Strebe for the dedication they have for the U.S.S.A. and Brenda Strebe for coordinating the food and accommodations for the Special Kids program.  We thank Shirl Tischauser for coordination of the delicious food served at the Legion.  We especially would like to thank all of the committee members, sponsors, mentors, landowners, organizers, food staff, supporters and all those who helped make this excellent event possible.

 

2015 LTH Group Picture

 

 

 

 

 

Wills First Turkey Hunt  - A story submitted about a successful hunt

March 28th, 2015

Written by: Robert Peterson

2015 LTH Will SchmudeSetting the tone for Wills first turkey hunt… it would be untrue to say that this hunt had been long planned, dreamed of and laid out long in advance.  Truth be told… It all came together quite fast.  The hunter Todd had planned to mentor this year had the honor of going to the state wrestling matches at the ripe old age of ten.   This opened the opportunity for Will to hunt with a mentor who has a lot of knowledge and success in hunting and calling in stubborn old longbeards.  More importantly, Todd is known for his emphasis of several key hunting guidelines which make him a terrific mentor.  Though Todd is out to give the people he mentors a good quality hunt, the most important thing to him is safety during the hunt.  Todd has been hunting long enough to know that every hunt is different. 

1). He plans the hunt. 

2). He hunts the plan. 

3). He says that while hunting, the turkeys will inevitably throw you a curve and he uses his experience to help adapt to the curve. 

4). He follows up by stating that above all other things; remember that safety is the most important thing.   

 

Preparation for the hunt began days earlier and it included a class room setting where students learn about turkey hunting techniques, about the turkey itself and there is an emphasis on firearm safety.  They did some scouting and Todd showed Will and his dad Gary how to tell the difference between hen and tom turkey tracks.  To make sure Will had a gun that would make clean kills, they all spent time at the shooting range refining their shooting skills and becoming familiar with the really cool turkey gun that Todd normally uses himself when he hunts.  Will shot the turkey gun well.  He especially liked the fire sights mounted to the barrel and admired the tight patterns the special turkey choke held on the paper target at 25 yards.  Wills dad worked on finding and setting up land on which the group could hunt on.  Once the land was approved, Todd set out a Double Bull tent in an area that he thought looked like it should hold some birds.  He had dusted off the calls and gotten his turkey decoys ready. Now they had to wait patiently for the hunt… until the very next morning.

 

Wills day started when he woke up at 4:18 in the morning.    Here’s the story of his first turkey hunt. 

After getting dressed into my hunting clothes dad and I got into the truck.  It was 14 degrees when we met Todd at Ruckdaschel Park in Sugar Bush.  From there we went to our hunting grounds and walked to the tent.  It was dark… Very dark.  Todd used his red light to peek into the tent just to be sure a coon or other critter hadn’t taken up housekeeping overnight.  We lucked out and the coast was clear, so we climbed on in.  This tent was to be our home for the morning.  Sitting in the dark tent felt cold, so we broke out the hand warmers.  Gary put toe warmers on the tops and bottoms of Wills feet to keep him comfortable.  We waited in the tent until it started to get light.  About 6:00 Todd looked out and said, “Well, if we’re going to hear any gobbling this morning it should happen right about now.”  About twenty seconds later, as if on cue, we heard a gobble- but it was off in the distance.  About thirty minutes later we heard one lone shot and I figured the bird that had gobbled wouldn’t be coming over to us.  We knew the other mentor that was hunting in the area, but also knew he wasn’t real close to us and that sound carries well on cold crisp mornings.

 

Will Schmude and Todd WippermanTodd worked his magic on his calls, primarily concentrating on clucks and purrs in a realistic cadence.  We were receiving no responses but Todd assured us that just because we weren’t hearing anything that it certainly didn’t mean that birds weren’t right nearby.  Todd kept up with the calling but we heard no more gobbles though we were hoping and listening for them.  To pass the time, Todd and dad were telling stories that mostly were about deer and the deer hunts they had.  During the stories Todd kept on calling.  Still… nothing.  Finally, it was getting close to the time we needed to pack up and head back to the Turkey Hunt Command Center in Caroline.  Together we had agreed on an ending time of around 10 am, so by now I was thinking nothing was likely to happen. That was when Todd announced that he was going to call one more time and then put the call away.  He told us that once the call was put away, the turkeys would then come in.  So Todd called one last time, and as he said he would, he put his call away.  Just as he did, and was finished closing the snap on the call case, he poked me in the back and said, “Will, don’t move, there’s two big toms right here!”  I thought to myself, ‘No he’s kidding.  How could it be?  We were getting ready to leave.’  Really not believing Todd, I stuck my head up and Todd said, “Wait!-Slow!”  I stopped and as I turned my head slowly-just a little bit- so I could peek out the slit in the window, I could see two toms standing outside the tent.  The window wasn’t open very far, it was just a small crack, but through the opening I could see the bigger tom was strutting and the smaller one wasn’t but had his head sticking up.  I said, “I see ‘em.”

 

It was decision time.  The decoys had been positioned about 25 yards off to the left of the tent to pull the turkeys into range in the event that they hung up too far out.  The two toms had now spotted the jake decoy and were going over there to deal with him.  Todd took the gun and put it on the shooting sticks, but the shooting sticks weren’t working, so we stuck the barrel out the window and rested the barrel on the lower edge of the window while I got ready to aim.  By the time we got ready, the birds had passed by on their way to the decoys and we had to move to another window.  Todd asked me which one I wanted to shoot but had me waiting to make sure the birds separated so that I would only shoot one of them, not accidently two.  The decision was easy for me and I said that I wanted “The Big One!”  The Toms were now circling the fake jake, but suddenly their demeanor seemed to change.  Todd wonders if it was all of the whispering going on in the blind or perhaps if the decoy didn’t look or react quite right in the toms mind.  As a result, the bigger tom that was in strut folded up.  It was obvious that the gig was up.  Both birds began to leave fast.  Dad was trying to video the whole event.  Dad wanted me to shoot, but I was listening for Todd.  My focus was on the bigger bird.  Todd couldn’t get his call out fast enough so he made a call with his mouth and the bird hesitated, or at least slowed down and had his head up.  When I took the shot at what Todd estimated to be 30-33 yards, the bigger of the two toms went down.  The other bird ran off.  Once down, my bird flopped over to the side and Todd told me to stay on him with my gun.  I wait for Todd to give me the signal if I’d need to shoot again.  The bird lay there and we waited for it to die.  But after a while -maybe about four minutes –the tom lifted its head and dad could see its warm breath in the cold air.  It wasn’t dead.  Suddenly the tom began to flop again and that’s when Todd said I should shoot him again.  With the tom out there at 42 yards I shot a second time.  The bird went down and actually died this time.

 

I was both happy and shaken.  I was really excited.  We went out to the bird and we gave each other High-Fives”.  We had actually pulled it off, and now I had taken my first wild tom turkey!  We said a prayer of thanks called the landowner with the good news and asked him to come pick us up.  Then we took the tent down.  We also took pictures so we could always remember this great hunt for the future.  I put the 23-1/2 pound turkey over my shoulder and carried it out to the truck by myself.  Later, at Marion, we found its’ beard measured 10-1/2 inches long.  Out of 42 hunters, this bird ended up being the heaviest of the 16 birds shot.

 

I’d really like to thank Todd for this experience and for taking the time to mentor me on my first turkey hunt and for doing all of the terrific calling.  I am also thankful that Todd let me use his really nice gun to shoot the turkey with.  I really like that gun and I found it really works great for shooting your first turkey.

 

When asked what stood out about Wills hunt in his memory, Todd cited several things.  First of all Todd said that it was a safe hunt since through all of the excitement, they considered safety first.  The group resisted the urge to run after the bird with a loaded gun, but instead kept everyone together until they could assess the situation.  He added that the hunt was successful because Will persevered and made two really good shots.  By paying attention and following instructions Will was ready when opportunities presented themselves.  He said Will did a good job of staying calm and collected.  What Todd also found memorable was the sight of when the toms went for the decoy and the sun hit their iridescent feathers.  He stated that he really never gets tired of seeing that.  Todd still wonders what it was that spooked the bird when they were by the decoys.  He said turkeys inevitably will throw you those types of curves.  However, success happens when you adapt to the curves those turkeys throw at you.