Youth Turkey Hunting Memories

April 30, 2020

A short story about our first youth turkey hunt in NE MO

A couple of weeks ago was youth turkey season in the state of Missouri. Facebook has been nice enough to pop up a memory from two years ago…. My boys first hunt. It’s a memory both them and I cherish.

As a then-single mom of two boys, living in the country in north east Missouri, I knew I wanted to teach my boys more about hunting and the outdoors. I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about turkey hunting, or even own a shotgun at that point. So when the Missouri Department of Conservation offered a mentored youth turkey hunt, I jumped at the chance.

On a Friday evening, we started with a classroom portion, learning about turkey, their habitat, how to call, and what beards and spurs and jakes and toms are. The kids got the opportunity to shoot and pattern a .410 shotgun as well. With confidence in both of their skills, we headed home for the evening to try to sleep.

Saturday morning dawned early and cold. Dressed in lots of layers, we met up with our conservation agents and split up. I was able to join my youngest (then almost 9) and one of the agents. We were on a private property the agent had permission to hunt and he had set a blind already. It was still dark as we climbed into the ground blind and got the heater going.

We heard one gobble that morning, and then nothing. My son was enjoying practicing his calling with the slate and box calls, and we soon discovered why we hadn’t seen any turkeys. Three coyotes crested the ridge and headed for the decoys, catching all of us off guard. Our turkey hunt became a coyote hunt. We didn’t manage to get anything, but we had fun. My older son (then almost 10), didn’t have any luck either.

The next morning, one of the agents was brave enough to take all 3 of us back out. After hearing but not seeing anything early, we opted to change tactics from hunting in a blind, to walking. The snowpants the kids were wearing (Did I mention it was cold? There was snow on the ground early) were not particularly quiet, so they had to ditch them, and go in what they had under their snowpants… pajama pants. I should mention that once we were up and moving, all of us were plenty warm. To this day, my kids still call those particular pajama pants their “sneakin’ pants”. We were again unsuccessful at finding turkey.

Even without a turkey that weekend, we were able to make memories that have stuck with us. They have thanked me countless times for the opportunity to go. The kids weren’t disappointed about not getting a turkey, and would gladly go again anytime we are able (hopefully next weekend during the regular season). I encourage everyone to check out the programs offered by their local Department of Conservation. We have done numerous other events and activities with them throughout the years, and it always puts a smile on my kids faces (and mine) to learn new skills and activities to enjoy safely in the outdoors.