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Hayden Kuester with a turkey shot on Saturday, April 6, 2013 with mentor Shawn Clark. / Shawn Clark/For
Shawn Clark and Hayden Kuester with a turkey shot on Saturday, April 6, 2013. / Shawn Clark/For
Jim Kuester and his son Hayden with a turkey shot on Saturday, April 6, 2013 with mentor Shawn Clark. / Shawn Clark/For


One of the things I am priveleged to do as a sportsman is handing down my knowledge of the outdoors to the next generation. Not only is this a privelege, but I feel it's a duty for all sportsman of my generation.

Many parents aren't as active in the outdoors as they were when I was a kid. And every sportsman should relish the opportunity to bring someone new into the outdoor world as often as possible. It's not hard and I try to do it every chance I get.

On Saturday, April 6, I was able to mentor another kid in the Learn to Hunt program. This time, it was in pursuit of turkeys. This is my fourth season of mentoring and I have been fortunate to have find success in bagging turkeys.

More on hunting: Hunting headlines | 2012-2013 trophy shots | More hunting photos | Watch a rebroadcast of Deer Camp Live | Registration station map | Hunting blogs

Here is the story of this incredible weekend.

Saturday morning came dark and early. I was meeting my student, Hayden Kuester and his dad Jim at a spot we share for both turkeys and bowhunting. Jim and I have been friends for almost 30 years. Jim had set up a pair of blinds in our area and we decided that our best opportunities were going to be based on past experiences.

After setting out the decoys, getting Hayden situated and enjoying some coffee we sat and listened for the birds to wake up. And it didn't take long. We heard both toms and jakes firing off some gobbles, as well as a few hens anoouncing thier whereabouts. But this was pretty short-lived. We knew the turkeys would hit the ground early, but they stayed pretty quiet for some time.

At about 7 a.m. we began to see some birds. Five different jakes started working their way to our decoys, but like typical adolescents they were acting squirrely, darting around and didn't come to the spread we had set up. Instead, these birds opted to cut in behind us. Hayden did manage to get off a 30-yard shot, but didn't score.

We sat quietly for some time, a bit disappointed. Hayden didn't seem as disappointed as his dad or I and wasn't bothered by the fact he had missed his shot. Rather, he was more determined to make his next opportunity count.

The next two hours were uneventful as Jim and I both expected. Suddenly, birds were gobbling again. We saw a jake work his way out of the neighboring property, and after about 10 minutes it was close enough to shoot. But something else caught my eye. Two longbeards also came out of the same area and were also working thier way closer, and I told both father and son what was happening as they were keyed in on the jake standing near our decoys. Jim leaned over and asked Hayden what he wanted to do. The kid decides to wait and see if the jake leaves. The toms don't get closer and he decides to take the jake.

Wouldn't you know it, the toms hold up, the jake starts to move out and boom! Hayden has his first turkey. A 17-pound bird with a short beard, but quite a prize, and an awesome story to tell.

When we met up at a local bowhunting club to register the bird, the Turkey Federation was preparing lunch for the mentors and students. We were pretty blessed. Out of about 30 hunters, only seven birds had been taken, with many of them not hearing any gobbling. Such is hunting. But none of the unlucky students had a bad time and all were thankful for the experience.

On Sunday, some of the other kids took birds bringing the total up to about 12. Not bad.

Consider taking a kid out hunting. You won't be sorry. If you want to get involved in a program like this,there are plenty of chances to get involved. Mentors are always needed and some kid will appreciate the opprtunity to learn how to hunt deer, turkey or bear. Kids get the experience of a lifetime, but the mentors may get even more out of it.

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