In this #TBT, Retro WON column, Mia Anstine shares important questions to ask an outfitter when taking your little guy or gal on a guided turkey hunt.
Turkey hunting in the spring is one of the most exciting times to introduce your little guy or gal to the sport. It’s always exciting to chase down the keen birds, and also, to call them in. To increase the odds of bagging a bird for your youngster, you may want to book a guided hunt with an outfitter who offers turkey hunting.
With any guided hunt, you need to ask specific questions before you go. This becomes even more important when you are bringing a youth hunter along. You want to make sure your child experiences quality time and wants to hunt again.
It is best to get your questions answered in person, or at least over the phone, by the outfitter. This will allow you to get a good feel for the outfitter, destination and methods of the hunt.
Standard questions should include travel arrangements, accommodations, meals and any state regulations specific to the game you are hunting. As adults, many of us are capable of being adaptive or spontaneous if necessary. This can be a bit more difficult if you are taking a child, so you should be prepared to ask added questions before your departure. Below are several questions to ask the outfitter, if you are taking a youth hunter on a guided hunt.
1. What gear is recommended?
Ask the outfitter what gear he or she recommends. If he or she says to bring mud boots, then bring them. There may be times when it may rain, or you will have to take child across streams or through mud, while you are there. An outfitter will give you an idea of the anticipated climate or weather patterns for the time of year you are hunting.
You should, in turn, be prepared with all-weather gear for the “just-in-case” scenario. Read my tips for keeping your little one comfortable during cold-weather adventures.
2. What type of terrain will you be hunting?
Wading across a shallow stream may seem exciting to some kids, while others may become distressed, squawk or squeal at the thought. You want to know if these types of conditions exist. LG used to be a whiner when she knew we had to hike. Ask if you’ll be sitting in a blind, brush or hunting spot-and-stalk. It’s up to you to decide what your child can manage, without scaring away a gobbler.
3. What hours of the day will you hunt, or how long will you hunt?
Some turkey-hunting guides will wake you up before sunrise. keep you out all day and return well past a young‘un’s bedtime. Other outfitters offer morning hunts and afternoon/evening hunts. Ask the outfitter what your guide’s schedule is, and determine if it is something your kiddo can handle.
4. When will we eat and what’s on the menu?
An angry belly can lead to an angry child. When you are asking about whether or not meals are provided, ask when you will be stopping to eat. If you are on an all-day hunt, it may be necessary to pack some snacks. If you have a picky child, be certain the menu contains items that will make him or her smile.
5. What are the facilities going to be?
You may want your child to have the full-on outdoor experience and stay at a camp. Every kid should experience a tent, campfire and the wilderness, right? Well, maybe yes, and maybe no. You know your child better than anyone. If he or she is a bit timid, you may want to ease into this gradually. It could make for a better 3-or 4-night’s sleep if you have 4 walls, a furnace and indoor toilet.
6. What are the possibilities of wild-turkey interactions?
Something that will have your child addicted, hook, line and sinker, to turkey hunting is interaction. There is nothing better than seeing a fidgety, bored and antsy child lose his or her breath when a big tom comes strutting in to a call. Ask the guide what the likelihood of this experience is. If you can get at least that far, you have a high chance of getting the youth hunter out there again.
7. What are the regulations for turkey hunting in this state?
Verify that your child is old enough to hunt, according to the regulations of the state that you will be hunting. Ask if a hunter safety certification is required. In addition to asking about the state regulations, you should also follow up and check them yourself. After all, it is your responsibility to know the rules of the area.
Taking a new turkey hunter out is a lot of responsibility. Ask the outfitter questions, assess your child’s ability, take note of your personal experiences and determine what is going to make for the best possible hunting experience.
This Retro WON piece first ran on March 21, 2014.
Good luck, have fun and we hope you will share your turkey-hunting tales with us.