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JAKES Hunt of a Lifetime lives up to its billing

Courtney Ignat of Houghton Lake, Mich., proudly displays the Merriam's gobbler she harvested at the NWTF's JAKES Hunt of a Lifetime.

Lucas Masterson of Iron River, Wis., needed only a few hours to successfully harvest a Merriam's gobbler on his first wild turkey hunt.

Michael and Courtney Ignat (left) and Michael and Lucas Masterson celebrate their harvests with a trip to Mount Rushmore before heading home.

Seven J Outfitters supplied comfortable accommodations, delicious meals and expert guides while hosting the NWTF JAKES Hunt of a Lifetime in Sundance, Wyo.

SUNDANCE, Wyo. - Lucas Masterson woke up to the sounds he heard in his dreams. Wild turkeys were gobbling all around his bedroom in a luxurious Wyoming lodge.

"We heard them everywhere," said the 15-year-old from Iron River, Wis. "It was amazing."

Then again, Masterson was in Sundance, Wyo., for a JAKES "Hunt of a Lifetime." He and 13-year-old Courtney Ignat of Houghton Lake, Mich., were randomly chosen for the May 17-21 trip from among 65,000 JAKES members.

Seven J Outfitters supplied food, lodging and guides in addition to access to more than 60,000 acres of private land.

"Hunt of a Lifetime - that would pretty much sum it up," said Masterson's father, Michael. "They each got a bird. The facilities were outstanding. They each had two guides. The food was unbelievable. It couldn't get any better than that."

Masterson and Ignat each were filmed by NWTF videographers as they harvested gobblers of about 18 pounds. Masterson harvested his on the hunt's first day, May 18, after only a few hours in the field. Ignat harvested her gobbler the next afternoon.

"Everything was fantastic," Ignat agreed. "It was really beautiful. I didn't know anything could be as beautiful as the forests in Michigan."

After getting their one-bird limit in only two days, the hunters and their fathers visited nearby landmarks Devil's Tower and Mount Rushmore on their third day of the trip.

Michael Ignat, whose other two daughters and a son are also hunters, said he would return with special memories and better familiarity with the NWTF's Women in the Outdoors outreach program. NWTF Women in the Outdoors coordinator Teresa Carroll made the trip.

"It was so unique at the ranch with such a family atmosphere and family values," Michael Ignat said. "Plus, this trip really opened me up to the Women in the Outdoors program."

Waiting until the afternoon to hunt on the first day, Masterson didn't need long to harvest his gobbler from about 30 yards out.

"I just had to do a little roaming around the land to find one," Masterson said. "When we saw one in a valley, I just kind of waited him out."

Ignat, who harvested a deer in Michigan, said she felt strangely calm as she harvested her first gobbler as a group of birds came atop a hill.

"I've been a little shaky hunting deer, but I wasn't with turkey," she said.

After harvesting their first turkeys, Masterson and Ignat said they expected to be out hunting for their second next year.

"Oh, yeah, for sure," Masterson said.




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