Youth turkey hunt "priceless" for hunters, mentors
It all happened so fast.
One minute, Aiden Carney was sitting in a turkey blind trying to call in a big gobbler – the next thing you know, the Sparta 12-year old had downed a big tom.
“I didn’t really have time to be nervous,” said Carney of his first-time turkey harvest.
Carney, the son of David and Karen Carney, bagged the 20-pounder at 7 a.m. Saturday during the Monroe County Longspurs Youth Turkey Hunt in the Cataract area.
The local branch of the National Wildlife Turkey Federation has put on the hunt for nearly a decade, paring season-veteran mentors with often first-time hunters on a quest for their first bird.
Carney’s mentor, Allan Anderson, has been part of the hunt since its inception.
“I’ve been hunting turkeys ever since probably the second season in the state,” offered Anderson. “I’ve shot a lot of turkeys, but if you can take a youth out and have him shoot a bird, it’s priceless.”
If not for the Longspurs’ hunt, it’s likely Carney would never have had the opportunity he had on Saturday.
No one else in his family hunts.
“I liked it,” said Carney of his first hunt, adding that his mother was the one who suggested he give it a try. “I thought it would be a good experience.”
Youth hunt organizer Darren Schauf said two dozen or so youth hunters and mentors participated this year – and three were lucky enough to harvest birds on Saturday.
“We do this to get first-time hunters, especially kids, into the woods,” offered Schauf, who serves as a mentor himself.
“It’s so much more rewarding to experience that first bird over and over again. It’s a lot more fun to give that experience to someone else, rather than bag my own bird,” he continued. “We had a great group of mentors again this year and there were a few birds shot, but everybody here has a story.”
To say Carney’s first turkey hunt was a good experience may be an understatement – at least if you hear Anderson’s account of the kill.
“We had decoys and we called it in,” he said.
“Two of them came barreling in and went right past the blind to the decoys – gobbling all the way,” Anderson continued. “They went right past the blind and jumped on the decoys – just like that.”
The rest, as they say, is history – at least until next spring.