Enthusiasm and a can-do attitude allowed Jonathan Creed to tough out a cold, rainy April morning to bag his first gobbler.
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Photo Courtesy of the National Wild Turkey Federation
NWTF Helps Give Youth A Shot At The Outdoors
Courtesy of the National Wild Turkey Federation
Jonathan Creed, 11
With a fruit drink, an oatmeal crème pie and a youth apprentice hunting license in his pocket, 11-year-old Jonathan Creed stepped into a cold, driving rain April 20 at his grandparent’s farm outside of Girard, Ohio, for the last day of Ohio’s 2008 youth turkey season. His dad, Chris, was at his side.
Jonathan, a fifth-grade honor role student, lugged an old NEF 20-gauge shotgun, a garage sale bargain his dad bought for just $40. His facemask was about three sizes too big, and his insulated camouflage coveralls were soaked by the time they arrived at their blind some 200 yards from the farmhouse. But Jonathan was too excited to care about the rain or ill-fitting gear.
Sitting in the darkened blind with a hen decoy just 30 yards in front of them, Chris, 36, waited patiently for the first hints of daylight while Jonathan slept. That all changed at 5:45 a.m. when the morning’s first gobble of a wild turkey tom startled the youngster from his slumber. The bird was just 100 yards away.
Jonathan smiled when a bird behind them answered that gobble, and yet another tom sound off to their right, about 150 yards away. Chris flapped an old turkey wing to simulate a bird flying down from its roost and scratched a few yelps on his friction call. All three gobblers answered.
For an hour and 15 minutes, the birds moved about, gobbling and strutting before finally going silent. Real hens had apparently intercepted the male turkeys for their annual mating ritual. Young Jonathan and his dad whispered about the sounds they could hear: woodpeckers, geese, crows and songbirds. And almost on queue, as the clouds began to lift and the sun came out, Jonathan exclaimed, “Turkey! It’s a gobbler!”
The big bird gobbled when he saw the decoy. He would walk toward the decoy a few steps and gobble; walk a few more steps and gobble again.
“Now, Dad?” Jonathan inquired when the bird was just 30 yards away and to their right.
“Not yet,” Chris replied.
With almost the bird’s every step, from 30 to 12 yards, Jonathan would say, “Now, Dad?” And Chris would tell him, “Not yet.”
When Chris gave him the green light, the shot from Jonathan’s single-shot 20-gauge flipped the turkey on his back and it was over.
“Jonathan’s adrenaline really kicked in at after the shot,” Chris recalled. “He could hardly talk! His legs and hands were shaking uncontrollably and he was breathing like he had just run a marathon. What an awesome father-and-son moment — the kind of moment that hooks a kid forever on hunting.”
Jonathan’s bird weighed a whopping 22 pounds. It had a 10-inch beard and its spurs measured 1 and 1 1/4 inches. Though it was his third turkey kill, it was by bar his biggest.
“Jonathan’s favorite things to do are to hunt and fish,” Chris said. “He enjoyed baseball and soccer until he found out that practices and games took away from his hunting and fishing time.”
The youngster is still excited about his hunt. “The hunt was awesome,” he exclaimed. “Before the hunt I was wet, cold and a little tired but still very excited. And during the hunt, the gobbles made me shake. I was so excited! It means everything to me that Dad takes the time to take me out and enjoy the great outdoors with him.”
Ohio’s apprentice program allows a licensed hunter age 21 or older to take any aged unlicensed individual hunting. The resident youth apprentice license costs $10 per year and may be purchased for three years before the individual is required to take a hunter education course.
“The mentoring program allows me to take my son hunting and include him on my hunts,” Chris added. “In our busy lives it is hard to find time to just go hunting, let alone take a hunter’s safety course. The mentoring program in Ohio has given me the opportunity to teach my son proper hunting safety as well as spend quality time in the woods passing on the great heritage of hunting. The result is a prepared youth hunter eager to take his hunter safety course and a youth with the desire to hunt and to eventually pass his knowledge onto another.”
For more information on hunting safety data and the Youth Hunting Report, log on to www.familiesafield.org, or call NWTF Headquarters at 800-THE-NWTF.