Time For Turkeys
Kids Outdoor Outpost - April 2016
Recently I attended the National Wild Turkey Federation’s (NWTF) Sawnee Mountain Chapter banquet to get primed for turkey season. While there, I caught up with NWTF’s Georgia State Chapter president and the Georgia Save the Hunt coordinator Dave Wamer. I had a few questions for him:
1) Dave, you’re a seasoned veteran with 23 seasons hunting longbeards. What can you tell our readers are important things to remember when they’re after turkeys?
“Adults need to do their best to remember it’s about the journey and not the destination. In today’s world of instant gratification, turkey hunting doesn’t always provide that level of feedback. We need to teach youth that there are other parts of the hunt—locator calls, types of trees, land navigation—not just the gobble and the shot. Woodsmanship is a dying art, so do your best to make it part of the hunt.
“Adults need to keep the hunt at a young ’uns pace. We should want the experience to be one these kids embrace, so they come back over and over. The run-and-gun tactics that make turkey hunting exciting to you may just wear on a youngster to the point they don’t find it fun. Consider changing up your tactics, and share a snack, take a nap and soak in some hunting time in a blind.”
2) What type gun should a young hunter take to the turkey woods?
“Don’t use a gun that’s too big or heavy for a young hunter. Many adults are going to the 20 gauge as their primary turkey gun because they have proven successful over and over. A lighter gun is easier to handle, especially in those last few minutes when it seems to take that turkey forever to get in range. Have them shoot to get comfortable with the gun prior to hunting.”
3) What load would you recommend?
“You can select a quality turkey shell from most reputable manufacturers. No. 4, 5 or 6 shot should work well. Just make sure it matches the gauge and appropriate length of the shell with your shotgun.”
4) Here’s a true/false for you Dave: The longer the beard the older the bird?
“Beard length can be influenced by several factors, including nutrition, disease and weather in northern climates. A better indicator of age is length of spurs but still not an exact science.”
5) What’s the best call for a young hunter to use?
“The one they are most confident in. Might be a box call, a pot-style call or even a push-pin. Real hens come in varying tones and pitches in their sounds, so rhythm and cadence are probably the most important pieces of calling.”
6) Should a young hunter shoot a jake (a 1-year-old male turkey)?
“Any hunter should shoot any game that is legal and meets their goals. If the hunter chooses to shoot a jake, who are we to judge? I’m thankful we have another hunter amongst us enjoying the outdoors and welcome them as part of the family.”
7) What is your most memorable moment while hunting turkey?
“The next gobble I hear. I have lots of memories, but I can’t wait to hear that next gobble.”
8) Tell us a little about the NWTF. What is the main goal of the group?
“Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. We are dedicated to taking care of the habitat in which we hunt, and we strive to create more hunters as part of our families, friends and communities. We prioritize our efforts in providing more places to hunt, while recruiting new hunters. If we are to keep our hunting heritage alive, we must create new hunters that will support our way of life as conservationists, license purchasers that fund management of our resources and voters who will have a voice in policy that will shape our ability to hunt.”