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Editorial

Around Our Town Recreation



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03/01/2005 - As the days grow increasingly longer many hunters start thinking about turkeys. And Wyoming's spring turkey season is a great way for parents to share a memorable hunting experience with a child.

"It means a lot to the kids to spend that much time together," said Mike Ehlebracht, investigator supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. "You're out there where there is no TV, no interruptions. It's just you and them."

Indeed, family hunts can be rewarding for both parents and children but adults should keep a few things in mind when turkey hunting with their offspring. The first is planning the hunt.

"For any new hunter, you want them to have a good experience the first time," said Ehlebracht. "Wounding an animal or wearing the child out is bad. The kids need to be as prepared as you can get them."

Ehlebracht recommends that kids get a lot of shooting practice before heading out on their first hunt. "They like to shoot and practice is something they enjoy, so practice a lot," he said.

"And when you're out in the field, don't get in a hurry and don't let them shoot offhand."

He said children should learn that just because they see an animal doesn't always mean they should take the shot. "It really burns a kid out to take a bad shot and end up crippling something. That's a pitfall you want to avoid when they are young."

Turkey hunters can choose from a variety of firearms for their hunt. Legal firearms include shotguns, center-fire cartridge rifles, muzzleloaders, or .22 Magnums. "Shotguns are good for kids because they don't have to be so accurate when they shoot," said Scott Edberg, Casper region wildlife supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Regardless of the choice of firearm, be certain the child knows how to properly handle and shoot the gun prior to the hunt. And most importantly, be certain of your child's target. "Be sure it's a turkey they are shooting at and not another hunter," Edberg said.

Parents also need to avoid overdoing it the first time out.

"Don't let a child's efforts exceed their enthusiasm," Ehlebracht said. Children generally have short attention spans and cannot concentrate for long periods of time. They will often become bored while waiting for a turkey to show up. Therefore, be certain to select an area that has plenty of birds.

A lot of birds can also mean a lot of opportunities to view the animals and learn a little bit about their behavior. "It can be exciting when you're hunting toms," Edberg said. "They are busy strutting and you are calling them into range and there's just a lot of action. And there is also the potential for the kids to see a lot of other wild animals, too."

Calling is the most effective way to hunt spring turkeys, "and it's a lot of fun, too," Edberg said. "Kids really get a kick out of it."

Spring turkey seasons open April 1 and 9 across Wyoming, with most running through May 15. And with many areas requiring only a general license, a parent and child can hunt together in any general hunt area. There is no age requirement for children to hunt turkeys, but they must possess a hunter education card as well as a license.

Spring turkey hunters can take any male or any turkey with a visible beard; however you must leave evidence of sex attached to the bird. All turkeys must be tagged prior to leaving the site of the kill, and the bag limit is one bird per hunter.

With a little planning and some common sense, a spring turkey hunt can be a great opportunity to introduce young hunters to the sport of turkey hunting. "Get out there and go turkey hunting," Edberg said. "It's one of the only spring hunts we have and it's a good way to break the monotony of winter and spend time with your children." For more information about spring turkey hunting in Wyoming log onto the Game and Fish web page at http://gf.state.wy.us.

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