Area youngsters find the mark during early turkey season

>There were quite a few 12- to

15-year-olds in the woods

April 26-27, taking advanta

PHOTOGRAPHER:

There were quite a few 12- to

15-year-olds in the woods

April 26-27, taking advantage of New York state’s early youth wild turkey season, and many of them were right on target here in the Capital Region.

Twelve-year-old Michael Patrick of Schuylerville never expected to get paid to hunt turkeys, but he did. While hunting under the super­vision of his dad, Cliff, in

Argyle, Michael patiently waited and watched as he and his dad were surrounded by jakes until the cautious boss tom made his appearance. And when he did, Michael’s Remington youth model 20-gauge made quick work of the longbeard.

After a lot of shaking hands, hugs and high-fives, they ran out to Michael’s trophy. It carried a nine-inch double beard, almost one-inch spurs and tipped the scales at 22 pounds.

But that wasn’t all it carried: It also had jewelry around its legs in the form of bands — one from Pennsylvania University and the other from the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation, and each, when reported, may earn Michael a $100 reward.

Just two days after receiving his hunter safety certificate from instructor Mickey Elliot, Danny Drum of Middle Grove was in the woods with his dad, Michael, trying to get his first wild turkey.

On Saturday, an elusive tom dodged the pellets Danny shot from his grandfather’s old 12-gauge pump, but that wasn’t the case Sunday. At 25 yards early into the hunt, Danny downed an 18-pound gobbler with a nine-inch beard.

Kyle Chancy of Hartford has two reasons to be proud: Both of his sons shot turkeys on the opening morning of the youth hunt.

Fourteen-year-old Willie bagged a nice 20-pound tom that carried a nine-inch beard, while 15-year-old

Warren, accompanied by two adult mentors, called in a 20-pound tom with a nine-inch beard. Both boys only needed one shot to get their gobbler.

The father-and-son team of Ausburn and 13-year-old Austin Trainor of Schuylerville used the concealment of a blind in the Northumberland area to get the youngster’s tom.

Dad set the blind out the night before the hunt about 50 yards from where the birds were roosting. The next morning, well before daylight, they set out their decoys and waited. At 5:30 a.m., they heard their first gobble, and 30 minutes later, the birds were flying down. As the tom slowly approached the look-alike decoy, Austin shouldered his 12-gauge Hatsan and dropped the gobbler.

Seconds after Austin’s shot, and before he retrieved his bird,

another tom flew in and attacked the tom and the jake decoys and strutted around for another 15 minutes before leaving. The harvested tom tipped the scales at 18 pounds, had an eight-inch beard and one-inch spurs.

A pop-up blind was also the hiding spot for Greg Crawford’s youth turkey hunt. He was with his dad, Brian, and a friend, George Ward of New Salem. It was about 6:15 a.m. when George coaxed in a nice tom to the decoys and just 32 paces from the barrels of Greg’s 12-gauge CZ over/under shotgun. The tom weighed in at 18 pounds, carried an eight-inch beard and had one-inch spurs.

Just two young hunters brought turkeys in to enter them in the Taylor & Vadney Sporting Goods store’s early weekend youth turkey hunting contest. The winner was Derek Frederick of Delanson, who bagged a 19-pound gobbler that carried a 97⁄8-inch beard and one-inch spurs. Accompanied by his dad, Ken, Derek used a Browning

12-gauge shotgun.

Second was Noah Barton of Schen­ectady, who was hunting with his dad, Greg, and took a

15-pound jake with one shot from a Winchester model 1400 12-gauge.

I guess the turkey hunting was difficult for the adults this season because the only other turkey tale I have for this week is mine.

On the opening day of the Pennsylvania turkey season,

April 26, I was in their woods well before sunup with my friend,

Jerry Wilson, who lives in that state. He had roosted several birds the night before, and we were confident we would hear and see birds that morning.

At about 5 a.m., we set up our blind and decoys and settled in. We didn’t have to wait very long for the gobbling to begin. There were definitely more than three toms answering our calls.

After about 15 minutes of talking with the toms, we could hear them fly down. They were coming, and Jerry clicked on the video camera. Five minutes later, one of the toms appeared off in the distance, and he was heading right toward us.

It wasn’t long before I saw the red head coming through the woods

directly behind the decoys. Quickly, I placed the turkey’s head in the center of crosshairs of the scope on my MDM Tomwacka 12-gauge muzzleloading shotgun. Would this be the day I would finally harvest my first muzzleloader turkey?

Well, it could have been, but the five- to six-inch beard that hung on his chest just wasn’t what I was looking for, and I let him walk

unharmed and watched him dis­appear into the woods. And I’m sure by now you’ve guessed that was the only opportunity I had that day, which just happened to be my last day, because I had to be back in New York on Sunday.

It wasn’t the first time I’ve made this mistake, and it won’t be my last, as you’ll see in my account of my opening days of the New York wild turkey season.

And speaking of Turkey Tales, if you bagged a bearded bird, drop me an e-mail of all the details to share it with your fellow turkey hunters. Send it to [email protected]

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