ashlynn schultz

PREPARED — Ashlynn Schulz's father made sure she was prepared when she killed her first turkey during a recent youth hunt.

The 2021 spring youth turkey season is barreling down on us quickly. If you plan on taking a child out, hopefully you are getting everything in order. But whether you have or have not yet, there are some things you can do to help put the odds in his or her favor against a wily longbeard this year.

Hunting turkeys with children can be tough. Kids just don’t have the strength to hold a heavy gun while waiting for an approaching tom.

Plus, any last-minute adjustment or movement that might be required to position themselves for a shot easily can be picked-off by the keen eyesight of a turkey, potentially ruining that set-up. For this reason, I prefer using a blind when possible when taking kids. Turkeys pay no attention to a pop-up blind whatsoever and will march right up to one.

Plus, the concealment of a blind will allow for any movement that is likely to happen when you take kids. Sometimes the nature of turkey hunting though, can call for multiple set-ups, requiring that you pack the blind and set it up each time you move locations.

This can be a pain. For this reason, I usually try set my blind up in an area where I think there is a good chance turkeys will come to after they fly down, or in a place that is close to the roost that I feel I can pull a gobbler to.

Or I launch a plan to utilize the blind when I feel the odds are best. For example, sometimes I elect to start out the day in the blind, then if things do not pan out, start hoofing it from there and make set-ups without it as we run into birds, or vice versa if the blind is in a spot that I feel may be good for later in the day in case we do not strike pay dirt right off the bat without it.

Another useful tool when taking a child turkey hunting is a set of shooting sticks. As I mentioned, expecting a youngster to hold up a shotgun for prolonged periods of time is not reasonable. A set of shooting sticks can do the bulk of the work for them and help keep them ready when that tom is approaching.

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In addition, some turkey vests even have a nylon strap on the shoulder called a gun cradle that is intended to hold the stock of the gun as well. When used in conjunction with a set of shooting sticks, the child does not even have to bear any of the weight of the gun. Instead, they can just focus on squeezing the trigger.

When it comes to drawing a bead on a gobbler, the typical bead or rifled sights that are mounted on the barrel of a shotgun can be a little tricky for a child to figure out. I recommend installing a red dot sight on the gun to make it easier for the youngster to acquire their target and make a lethal shot.

Most red dot scopes do not have any magnification making it easier to find the bird in the scope, although you can get one that has some slight magnification if you desire. For that matter, a typical shotgun scope with a set of crosshairs and low magnification can also work.

But probably one of the most important things to consider when wanting your child to be successful in the spring turkey woods is the weapon itself. There are many excellent youth model shotguns available on the market today, and they are designed specifically with younger or lighter-framed hunters in mind. With shorter profiles and being lighter in weight, they are much easier for a child to carry and to maneuver when it’s go time.

Most youth model shotguns are chambered in .20 gauge, which is more than adequate for taking down a gobbler at reasonable distances, while producing less recoil than a .12 gauge.

Consider placing an additional after-market recoil pad on the butt of the gun as well to lessen the blow even more. It will be necessary to experiment with different chokes and ammunition in order to figure out which combination works best in their particular gun, however, so make time before the season starts to determine which combination you will go with and how far your child can be effective with it.

With the right equipment and frame of mind, your child can have an enjoyable and successful turkey season.