Turkey time: Kids across state flock to Moffat County for youth hunt program
His license says “Good for One Bearded Turkey” and 14-year-old Braden Martinez wasted no time once the sun came up Saturday morning.
“Bird on the trail wandering around … Boom … On the ground,” he said.
With two years hunting experience already under his belt, Martinez had plenty of praise for the Youth Turkey Hunt program held the first weekend in May on Douglas Mountain.
“I would recommend it. I think people would love it,” Martinez said.
The six other youngsters — ranging from the Front Range to Fruita to local Craig hunters — all expressed the same enjoyment after the mornings hunt.
Jennah Hassan of Denver was impressed by the big “Tom” she saw early in the hunt.
“Before we got into the blind we had a turkey in our laps,” the 13-year-old said. “The hunt went very well.”
That is the goal of the Youth Hunt Programs said Mike Swaro, assistant area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
“We hope by introducing them to turkey hunting, it leads to a path of lifelong hunting,” Swaro said.
Following Friday’s classroom instruction on bird identification and calling in “gobblers,” the group of youngsters headed out to the Bears Ears shooting range for special shotgun training.
A 4 a.m. start was no problem as the young hunters were “all fired up and ready to go,” according to volunteer John “Catfish” Arthurs, a man with 42 years of turkey hunting experience.
“We heard gobbling when we got out of the truck,” Arthurs said. “Turkey hunting is so fun.”
His grandson, Hunter Snow of Craig, agreed.
“We sat down and started calling,” the 14-year-old said. “Heard two … One shot … Just over 30 yards.”
Snow has been hunting since he was 9, and he was at the range shooting by age 7.
“It’s super pretty land. This is a once-in-a-lifetime hunt,” Snow said of the private hunting area on Douglas Mountain.
“We owe a lot to the landowners that make these hunts possible,” Sawaro said.
Each young hunter was paired with a district wildlife manager, and parents were welcome to attend.
Saturday’s hunt was a success in more ways than the large success rate the hunters experienced.
Emma Eyser of Loveland, 13, expressed her love for the outdoors, as well as hunting with her father Greg.
“I just like to get out there,” she said.