Passing The Torch: Advice on Helping the Next Generation of Turkey Hunters

Passing The Torch: Advice on Helping the Next Generation of Turkey Hunters

Posted by Rick Taylor on May 1st 2024

Everyone remembers their first time in the woods and for many of us, it began in our youth sharing some outdoor time with someone we cared about. This time fostered a passion that we continue to enjoy today and It's our responsibility to share this passion with future generations. We’ve recruited the help of CVA Pro-Staffer and expert turkey hunter Rick Taylor to provide some insight on the keys to successfully starting a kids turkey hunting journey.

“When it comes to taking kids turkey hunting, there can be a few obstacles to overcome. This is just a little bit of insight from years of experience that will hopefully help guide you through some of those obstacles and make some core memories with your kids or someone else's as you get the chance to become a mentor!

One of the first things to consider is choosing the right gun is to make sure that their experience is a positive one. Too much recoil, improper fit, & even being too heavy can all lead to being too scared to pull the trigger, a complete miss, or even getting hurt from the recoil. With the advancement of today's turkey loads, a sub-caliber shotgun like the CVA Scout .410 becomes a perfect choice for the young hunter, especially paired with TSS! Practice is crucial, making sure that the gun is patterned and the hunter understands the way the gun functions so that when the time comes they can pull the trigger without any hiccups. In addition to practice, ear protection is a must! How many of us as adults wish we could go back in time and protect our hearing from shooting and hunting situations?!

Being comfortable in the turkey woods isn't always easy. Too many times we find ourselves twisted up as we are propped against a tree pinned down by the wary eyes of a flock of turkeys until our legs begin to lose feeling and everything goes numb! Kids are going to have a much harder time sitting still in those types of situations. One of the most effective tactics I have found to keep kids comfortable is by utilizing ground blinds. And to be honest, there are times as I have gotten a bit older that I find myself enjoying sitting in a comfortable seat as opposed to a padded cushion leaned up against a tree. A ground blind is the perfect place to allow the kids to get away with a bit more movement as they wait. It will also help hide their movement as they get in position to take the perfect shot. Unlike deer, a turkey could care less most of the time if a blind just shows up somewhere that it has never been. I have personally popped a blind up in the middle of a wide open field and crawled in it and killed a turkey or watched a kid kill a turkey out of it that very same morning. Don't open all of the windows, you can silhouette yourself which will obviously give away your movement when you are trying to stay concealed. A few snacks and even an IPad to keep them entertained can extend their patience and allow them to sit just a little bit longer.

Patience is critical as a turkey hunter, and is even more critical as a guide/mentor when taking a kid. You have to keep in mind that they aren't as skilled or as patient as you and that there will be mistakes. They will mess up, and that is okay. Your main goal should not be making sure they get a shot, although that is the ultimate goal. Your main goal should be giving them the best experience that you can as you hopefully put them in a position to have an opportunity to pull the trigger.

What to shoot? Every turkey hunter I know wants to kill the turkey with the longest spurs & longest beard in the flock! When taking a kid, I let them set the standard for themselves. If they are happy with pulling the trigger on a jake and it is legal where you are hunting, then by all means turn them loose! We sometimes overlook the value of a trophy in a new hunter's eyes...remember when you were that new hunter, your perspective was likely a whole lot different than it is now.

Take pictures, lots of them! With the cell phone cameras we all carry in our pockets every day, it is so easy to document the experience. As this turkey season here in Tennessee approaches, I am so grateful that I am able to look back at so many moments that I have shared with my now 16 year old daughter. This will be her last season as a juvenile hunter, and all of those experiences we have shared together are going to be at the forefront of my mind. Her success is now hinged on what little time she has to hunt as a teenager with a job and after school activities coupled with the fact that she lives with her mom and is limited to weekend hunting between work shifts and my availability. As a dad who has raised a daughter that loves the outdoors as much as I do, this season will be very special to me and I intend to make the most of it and give her the best experiences I possibly can.

As I said in the beginning, there are obstacles to overcome. What I didn't say is that the reward is worth every broken stick that they step on, every whisper that wasn't quiet enough, every snack wrapper and every "When will the turkeys be here?" question you will ever answer. If you take the time to help ignite their fire then one day you won't have to worry about who is going to carry the torch.”

To learn more about Rick and his turkey hunting experiences, check out his instagram here

Click here to learn more about the CVA Scout .410


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