The Kids Are Alright

The kids these days!

This past weekend’s youth turkey hunt in Oregon as well as Washington’s the previous weekend was quite the success, if photos received at Northwest Sportsman are any judge.

Among the young bird blasters, Riley Johnson, Gage Nelson, Bryce Askew, the aptly named Hunter Parini and Michael Cook Jr.

Here are their pics and stories:

Riley had two long days of hunting with a number of opportunities, LOTs of walking, listening, setting up and doing everything possible to entice a tom to come in. All of them had their own set of challenges which kept us from being successful. However, on the last day in the last hour, we were able to find some birds (thanks to T.C. Ashley) gobbling up a storm in an area where we could try one last time.

Our guides/friends — Kim Thompson and Tyler Myers, along with Kim Mitchell and Riley’s younger sister Peyton — postioned themselves about 15 yards above Riley and me. Kim T. started his “courtship” letting out a menagerie of hen calls. We could hear various groups of toms gobbling throughout the canyon and one group about a 1,000 yards away across the other side gobbling.

As Kim T. continued with his hen calls, they would gobble a bit closer and closer. You could hear the “gobble” echo through the trees and canyon walls.

This went on for about 30 minutes where we could tell they were right on top of us but still couldn’t see them.A hen had came up within 10 feet away from us on my left hand side in the thick brush (we could not see her, but we could hear her) where she began to chirp with a sound utilized when a turkey is a bit concerned something is not right.

About 30 yards below us two toms walked out slowly. In between Riley and the turkeys were a number of old junipers. We were sitting quietly next to one tucked in with Riley’s 20-gauge Montifeltro Bennelli positioned on her shooting stick pointing in the direction of the two turkeys – being careful NOT to make one wrong movement. The two toms continued to dip their heads and let out loud “gobbles” as they moved across the field downhill from Riley and me. They were essentially answering Kim T’s courtship hen calls to hopefully add to their harem of hens.

Riley was listening to me whispering to her: “Relax and wait a second until we can determine which one to shoot.” Riley’s heartbeat and breathing were beyond “excitement” and exponentially increasing with each passing second. I wanted her to shoot the one on the right but she didn’t have a clear shot. She kept whispering, “I don’t see it.”

I reached over to pull the shooting stick towards me and told her to lean against my right shoulder and look between the two junipers. She said, “OK, I see him.”

I said, “Take him, take him now.”

She said, “Now?”

“Yes!”

(I was trying to continue to keep my voice at a whisper, but when Riley tells the story she says, “He was yelling at me telling me to shoot”).

KA-BOOM! … and down goes Fraser!

It was a perfect shot and an unbelievable ending to an awesome trip.

After taking a bunch of pictures and talking about the entire weekend, I instructed Riley how to carry the trophy tom over her shoulder for the hike out. She said, “Wait a minute” to readjust her long blonde hair to the other shoulder. She had proven herself to be a bonified turkey hunter, but was still a 100% teenage girl.

Thank you again to T.C. Ashley, Kim Thompason and Tyler Myers!  It was AWESOME!  Something neither she nor I will ever forget — and her little sister, Peyton, is all ready for next year.

— Todd W. Johnson

RILEY JOHNSON'S FIRST TURKEY, TAKEN DURING OREGON'S YOUTH HUNT LAST WEEKEND. IT WAS HER SECOND SEASON PURSUING GOBBLERS. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

THE JOHNSON FAMILY TURKEY BRIGADE. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

CARRYING HER BIRD OUT OF THE WOODS. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

My 11 year-old-son Gage went on his first turkey hunt this past Saturday in Eastern Oregon and successfully bagged a turkey within 30 minutes of opening morning. If you know Gage, you realize 30 minutes was an eternity for him.

We spotted the tom over 150 yards away on a hillside opposite the field we were set up in. With a couple yelps and purrs the game was on. A few gobbles later he left his hens and took off on a dead run until 30 yards from us to stop and strut his stuff for a brief moment. Then before my son could even put the bead on him, he put his head down and continued his charge toward the decoys. He then excitedly circled the jake and hen decoys several times while my son tried to get a good shot at 20 yards.

Finally after I gave a loud yelp he presented a target and Gage pulled the trigger and the rest is history.

The Rio Grande tom weighed 20 pounds with 1-inch spurs and 9 1/2-inch beard.

It’s moments like this  that make all the work in child raising well worth it.

–Mike Nelson

GAGE NELSON AND HIS FIRST GOBBLER, TAKEN IN EASTERN OREGON THIS PAST WEEKEND. (MIKE NELSON)

Had a great weekend with the youth turkey hunting opener here in Oregon. Lots of birds gobbling on Saturday and Bryce managed to tag her eighth bird in her short (only 15 years old) hunting career. Tough hunt, great memories and it all worked out perfectly … Well, not for the tom.

— Wil Askew

BRYCE ASKEW'S 8TH TURKEY. (WIL ASKEW)

All Hunter M Parini,  age 11, wanted for his 12th birthday was for his father to guide him on a  a spring turkey hunt. So we headed east to Davenport, Wash., for the special spring youth hunt April 3-4.

On April 4th, Easter, at 7:05, hunter bagged his first longbeard – 22 pounds. Double bearded, 10 inches and 3 inches, with 3/4-inch spurs. What a bird for the first one. It’s going to be tough to top that!!!

— Gene Parini

HUNTER PARINI'S FIRST TURKEY, TAKEN NEAR DAVENPORT, WASH. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

Mikey Jr’s first turkey. It was a jake; he got him near Riverside, Wash., on opening day of the youth season.

–Michael Cook

A JAKE FOR JUNIOR -- MICHAEL COOK'S OKANOGAN COUNTY, WASH., SPRING TURKEY. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

Congrats, kids, you’re well on your way to becoming very successful Northwest sportsmen and -women!

Mikey jr’s first turkey. It was a Jake he got him near riverside Washington on opening day of the youth season

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