Spencer Smith never heard a gobble the first morning of the Ohio Partnership Hunt. He didn’t need to.
A silent 4-year-old tom slipped by the blind Smith occupied with his hunt mentor, Bob Fulcher, and guides Greg and Kendell Keeton. A short tussle with the decoy and seconds later, Smith’s first bird — a 21¾-pounder with 11-inch beard and 1½-inch spurs — was down.
“The bird brushed against the blind, he was so close,” said Smith, who was one of 10 Ohio NWTF scholarship winners selected for the hunt.
“We’re paying it forward and investing in the future,” said Gene Goodwin, former NWTF president and member of the NWTF national board of directors.
Goodwin is one of the masterminds behind the Ohio Partnership Hunt. We are aware of no other state that offers such a hunt for its chapter scholarship winners, which begs the question, as turkey products manager for Zink Calls and volunteer guide Josh Grossenbacher wondered: “Why don’t they?”
THE OHIO MODEL
Grossenbacher was one of about 20 guides and hunt mentors who gave time and expertise to the event.
“I like to help the youth,” he said. “I want to see the tradition of hunting preserved. It’s pretty awesome being from Ohio and seeing this event have success.”
Each of the 10 Ohio winners were assigned to a guide and mentor and given all the gear they needed — camo clothing, decoys, calls and a Remington 870 shotgun.
DON’T TAKE IT FOR GRANTED
After the first morning hunt, the group gathered again and each hunter gave a synopsis of their morning. Chad Evans, who hunted with NWTF Development Advisor and longtime biologist James Earl Kennamer, Ph.D., was working a gobbler before lunch but had to call it a day due to Ohio’s noon cutoff time during the first two weeks of the season.
“Fifteen minutes before noon, the bird was coming in, but we ran out of time,” Evans said.
Kennamer — for whom the $10,000 NWTF national scholarship is named — has participated in the hunt since its inception and enjoys the opportunity each year to hunt with Ohio’s brightest youth.
“Let’s don’t take it for granted,” Kennamer said. “There is always somebody trying to take away the privileges of the outdoors.”
THE FUTURE IS NOW
Smith turned out to be the only scholarship applicant on the hunt to kill a longbeard.
Every day in the woods is special, and more states should be sharing this type of opportunity with their NWTF chapter scholarship winners. Goodwin echoed that sentiment.
“These young people are going to guarantee our future,” he said.
Learn more about the NWTF scholarship program by clicking here.