MARTINO: Turkey season is ideal for new hunters | Sports

It’s almost time. This year’s Indiana wild turkey season is set to begin in a few weeks.

The special youth season will be held on April 23 and 24. Then the door opens wide for the regular season from April 27 and will continue until May 15. Wild turkeys are one of Indiana’s greatest conservation success stories and can be hunted in all 92 counties of our state.

If you’ve never helped a novice hunter climb the learning curve, you’re missing out on one of the most enjoyable aspects of this spring activity. Turkey hunting is tailor-made to initiate beginners and children. The weather can be comfortable, the smell of new spring growth is pleasant to the nose, and the sound of a gobbling turkey can add excitement to those first outings. Unlike deer hunting, which is more of a waiting game, spring turkey hunting can provide more action and activity.

There is something special about this bird and the rituals associated with hunting it. They can grant instant success to a newcomer or make a seasoned hunter dance through the woods like a high school prom. It’s part of the appeal. However, the same degree of difficulty that makes turkey hunting so appealing can also keep some people from sticking with it. This is where a mentor can make a huge difference.

Every season, I have the honor of taking on someone new. Honestly, I like it more than going it alone. Also, never think you have to be an expert hunter. People who claim to be masters are usually just bragging. Even the most serious hunters will unwittingly find ways to mess things up.

The first is to teach beginners common practices like pre-season scouting. After all, you can’t catch a bird if it’s not where you’re hunting. Your job is to instill the seeds of patience and trust.

If you decide to mentor a newbie, regardless of age or gender, here are some things to consider.

First, if you’re taking a child, make sure they’ve taken the required Hunter Ed course. Indiana offers a “Learner’s License” for those who are not available to take the course. Then, long before heading into the woods, have a chat with your newbie. Talk about walking quietly through the woods, not slamming the truck door, and only talking in a low voice. Also emphasize the importance of sitting still and making slow, deliberate movements only when necessary.

If possible, it never hurts to watch a few turkey hunting videos. Explain that these videos are usually a condensed version of a hunt that could have taken days to film. Explain that videos make it look easy, but they can still offer teaching points. Explaining the screen action will help. Emphasize the birds’ body language, timing of the shot, and calling techniques.

While you’re at it, when watching these videos, take some time to practice the usual seated position for most turkey hunts. Dropping to the ground against a tree with your knees up becomes second nature to a seasoned hunter, but remember this is all new to the first timer. It may sound silly, but it helps when heading into the woods for the first time with the newbie in tow.

If your recruit is already familiar with the safe handling of firearms, you have a head start. Otherwise, take the time to familiarize them. For kids and short women, a .20 or .410 caliber shotgun works just fine, especially with some of the new tungsten super shot loads.

Take the time to practice before you go. Do not use specialized turkey fillers. Instead, feed the gun light target loads. Now is not the time to subject your beginner to the higher recoil of turkey loads. Of course, the gun should be modeled after the loads it will hunt with, but you do that instead.

Make sure your hunter wears comfortable and suitable clothing. The more comfortable they are, the longer they will want to stay in the woods. Plan in advance the clothes worn. Let’s face it, a camouflage t-shirt won’t do if it’s 45 degrees and it’s raining. Also, make sure they have a comfortable seat cushion. It’s impossible to sit still when your back is screaming.

During the hunt, try not to do everything yourself. Let the recruit participate as much as possible. The call is a great example. Don’t be afraid to let them scratch a few calls once in a while. Make them feel like an active partner. But the most important aspect of any hunting adventure is to have fun!

City of First Bassmasters

The City of First Bassmasters of Kokomo recently kicked off their summer tournament season when the group traveled to West Boggs Lake. Joe Allen and Raymond Franks swept the event taking first place with five largemouth bass totaling 12 pounds and 11 ounces. They also had the “big bass” honor of the event with a fish tipping the scales at three pounds and nine ounces. Second place went to Tyler and Nick Teeters with four fish weighing seven pounds and 12 ounces. Solo angler Cody Oliver rounded out third place with two scale-dropping fish at four pounds and seven ounces. The club’s next tournament is scheduled for Lemon Lake.

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