On Saturday the 7th, MUCC’s Learn to Hunt Program teamed up with Steve Sharp and the National Wild Turkey Federation to host the first day of a three day learn to hunt turkey program. Day one was the scouting and range day to introduce participants to the idea of turkey hunting and to help them become familiar with firearms and turkey hunting basics. The final two days of the program held on the 27th and 28th of April will pair the participants up with mentors and they will spend the weekend turkey hunting together. The total group consists of 15 individuals. For the range day, 10 were in attendance.
The day started off with an overview of how conservation is funded and the importance of buying licenses to help wildlife. This segued into a biology lesson on the life cycle of the wild turkey and some of the rules and regulations of turkey hunting, along with how to use the turkey hunting digest.
After about an hour of classroom talk, the group headed outside. Steve Sharp (NWTF R3 Coordinator) and his volunteer Chris Hillman, had set up a shoot don’t shoot course for the participants. This course has different sets of turkey decoys set up over a half mile woods walk. There were hens, jakes, and gobblers at different distances allowing the participants to practice their bird identification, and judge the distances, to decide if that would be an ethical shot to take. At a few stations, there were camouflaged hunters hidden behind their decoys to emphasize the importance of knowing your target and what is beyond it.
During this walk, participants had a chance to practice setting up a pop up blind. They also learned about what type of sign to look for to determine if turkeys may be in an area. They were shown scrapes, feathers, and even some planted turkey poop.
After a break for lunch and an introduction to the MI-Hunt app, to find public land areas to hunt the group was ready to hit the range.
Most of this group had a working knowledge of firearms but a refresher on safety is always a good idea. We spent the last three hours of the afternoon putting steel down range. The group was able to become familiar with a few different models and gauges of shotguns. They also learned about the types of chokes and loads for turkey hunting. After getting all of the participants to a level of shooting they were confident with we wrapped the day up.
The next stage of this event will begin on April 27th. The group will be paired with a mentor to learn turkey calling techniques, decoy placement and some of the nuances of being in the field. This is a three-day event so this blog will be updated after the hunt weekend!