Young turkey hunters enjoy success

April 20, 2009

Faith Outdoors

A special youth turkey hunt was held over the weekend in various locations throughout the state. More than 300 first-time turkey hunters from 12-17 were drawn in a special lottery and went on guided hunts with volunteers who are local members of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

When I read about the hunt, I made some phone calls to friends with sons who qualified. Two dads ended up sending in applications for their sons and all three of their boys got picked. I went to high school with both fathers — Bernie Schwab and Marty Willard — and we graduated from Totino-Grace High School in 1979. Bernie’s son, Dan, hunted near Red Wing and Marty’s two sons, Jonathan and Simeon, went to Belle Plaine.
The first to connect on a gobbler was Jonathan, hunting with guide Dan Townsend, who attends Our Lady of the Prairie in Belle Plaine. Two big gobblers came in at about 6:20 a.m. and Jonathan shot one of them. Not too far away, Simeon had a close encounter with a tom later that morning, but the bird would not come up over a small rise to give him a shot.
Meanwhile, Dan Schwab had to wait until the next day. He was out of town on a mission trip and did not get back until Saturday afternoon, leaving him just one day to get his bird. The time factor, plus some rainy weather on Sunday, gave him and his guide a sense of urgency.
They moved around quite a bit to find some active birds and finally struck up a gobbler at about 9 a.m. The bird came to within 30 yards and Dan made the shot. His bird weighed 23 1/4 pounds. He used my 12-gauge, which we had sighted in a few weeks before the trip. I have killed birds all the way out to 55 yards, so I was confident the gun would work well for Dan, and it did.
At about the same time Dan killed his bird, Simeon and his guide, Chad Selnow, were trying to call in a group of toms, seven jakes and one mature gobbler. All eight birds ended up coming in and Simeon was going to try to take the mature bird, but it was so close to another jake that he couldn’t shoot for fear of killing both birds. So, he looked and saw a jake separated from the others and he took it.
I couldn’t be happier for the boys. And, I’m very grateful to the guides who worked hard to give the boys such a great experience in the woods. Many of the guides are landowners who allow the youth to hunt on their land. I think that’s very generous, considering that this is land that they themselves hunt. My hats off to all who were involved in this special hunt. I hope to be a part of it someday. Next year, my son, William, will be 12 and eligible for this hunt. I would love for him to have this opportunity.
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About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

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