Chenango County Youth Hunt
Published: April 27th, 2022
By: Eric Davis

Chenango County Youth Hunt

This past weekend was the Youth Turkey Weekend, which is a weekend when only hunters from age 12-15 can hunt turkeys with a licensed adult.

Only the youth hunters are allowed to carry firearms afield during the hunt. This special season was created about 10 years ago. I was an eligible youth the first year it happened and shot my first turkey the second year on the Youth Weekend.

Due to this, the Youth Weekend holds a special place in my heart, and I enjoy trying to help a youth hunter get the feeling I had after my harvest. This year I participated in the Chenango County Youth Hunt as a mentor for a youth hunter.

Saturday morning, I met Ted, my co-mentor, and Jonathan, our youth hunter, at 4:30 in Norwich so we could get to the property we would be hunting by 5:00. We got out of the truck and got all our gear out. Then we headed out into one of the fields to listen for the first gobble of the morning. It took a little longer than I expected for the first gobble to echo down the valley. Then shortly after another gobble came from close to the corner of the property we were on. Then a group of gobbles from the same corner. Upon hearing this, we headed to a field along the property boundary near where they were gobbling. We walked down the field edge and found a place for Jonathan to sit against a tree.

We put out our decoys and then I sat next to Jonathan and Ted sat at a tree a few yards away. As we were getting settled in, the birds continued to gobble. I got out my pot call and made some light yelps with it. A minute or so later, Jonathan excitedly whispered “Look over there, they’re landing in that field!” Sure enough, turkeys were flying down from the roost and landing in the field across the creek from where we were set up. In all, six turkeys landed there and started walking around. I got my binoculars out and watched them. As the first couple turned, I could see stubby beards on them. As the group started to work across the field, two began moving quicker and began to fight with each other. Next thing you know, all six of them are in a big ball with fighting purrs audible from over 150 yards.

After the fighting subsided, the pack of jakes worked to the left and got out of view behind some brush along the creek. This was not a big deal because there is a good place to cross the creek to the left and I have had turkeys walk around that way to get to the field we were in before. So, we sat there and waited. However, the turkeys never reappeared. After waiting for a while, we decided to check out a piece of state land that was nearby.

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After driving around for a little bit, we found a place to park and walked about a half mile into the state land calling every few hundred yards. We got a bird to gobble but he was a long way away and on private land next to the state land. We walked back to the truck and tried our first spot again. Nothing responded to our calls here, so we called it a day and headed to the Oxford Rod and Gun Club for lunch with the other hunters and mentors.

On Sunday, everybody wore knee high rubber boots, and we crossed the creek to set up in the field where the jakes had flown down into on Saturday. Then we had a turkey hunter’s worse morning with no birds gobbling at all. After sitting there for some time, we decided to try another property in Norwich. We got there and walked and called our way through the property. We hit a clearing and set up the decoys and decided to just call every 10 minutes or so and see if anything would show up. After about a half hour a turkey gobbled about 200 yards away. I called and two turkeys gobbled in response, and they sounded closer. They continued to gobble on their own every couple of minutes and kept sounding closer and closer. They finally gobbled close enough that anticipated seeing them coming through the woods at any moment. However, after about 5 minutes they gobbled farther away.

They gobbled once more even farther away. We picked up and tried to circle around them so we could get ahead of where they were headed. Once we started our circle, we found a nice flat bench area that would have been where they gobbled at when they were closest. They probably were strutting there, waiting for the hen to come to then and then gave up when she didn’t. We set up again after making our circle but never got a response.

By then it was 10:30 and by the time we got back to the truck it was 11:00. We called it a day again and went to the gun club for lunch.

While Jonathan was not successful in terms of a harvest, three youth hunters did shoot a turkey on Saturday along with a couple hunters who shot and missed both on Saturday and Sunday.

At the end of each day, we asked Jonathan if he had fun and he would smile big and tell us he did. I’m hoping to be able to take him out again during the regular season to see if he can shoot his first turkey this season.