Let’s face it; hunting is a fun and adventurous activity that many hunters take too seriously. Then there are the rest of us who are obligated to take new and young hunters afield and we love doing it, mostly. In my many years of being a turkey guide, I have taken many children and young hunters on their first hunts, and I have a system that I think will help your young hunter find success.
The very first thing to establish when you take a young hunter hunting is what you want to accomplish. If the parent of the child simply wants you to help him kill a bird, then most of the work is already done. However, if the parent wants the child to learn how to turkey hunt, then that is an entirely different game. Luckily for me, I had paying clients so they simply wanted their young hunter to kill a bird, which was fine with me.
In my opinion, it is much more productive to get a young hunter a kill and to hook him on hunting for life, than to teach him about it and make him/her suffer through hours of sitting and waiting. Besides, reliving the hunt and enjoying the success teaches plenty of info and provides a solid foundation for all future hunts. Here is how I take a new, young hunter on their first turkey hunt.
First off, while traveling to the field before daylight, I repetitively instill in the child that when it comes time to pull the trigger, the only thing I want them to remember and obey when that moment comes is to not watch the turkey get shot. I tell them that if they want to kill a turkey, they absolutely cannot shoot the bird and also watch him get shot.
Watching causes shooters to shoot high because they try to simultaneously pull the trigger and get the reward of seeing the bird react. It is impossible to be accurate and do both, so I drill into their young minds that they can forget about watching the bird. I simply want them to concentrate, pull the trigger, and then we can go collect the trophy. I tell them dozens of times that you will not kill anything if you try to watch it die. Older and experienced hunters will understand this methodology and it works like magic, trust me.
Once that has been established, the only work is to get a bird in range which for new hunters generally means within 20 yards. If you know your birds and areas, this is simple. A jake or two year old bird is never impossible, so that’s my goal with young hunters. If we shoot anything older, it’s a bonus.
Once a shooting opportunity exists, the child needs to literally be between your legs for obvious reasons. You can control the child’s movements and calmly talk him through the process, and you can use your knees as a gun rest. I also let the kid know that when the bird is in range, I will make a loud ‘putt’ which will force the bird to stop and raise his head to investigate the sound. It is then that the child must shoot. If you properly prepared them to shoot and not watch the bird react; you will most often have a fine trophy for the young hunter to admire all day long. I am 100% with this technique and I hope it helps you get that young hunter that first turkey.