Youth Turkey Hunts
Youth turkey hunts are a favorite among all the turkey guides and the entire staff at Heartland Lodge. Seeing the next generation get involved in turkey hunting is something we all enjoy. The smile on their faces tells the entire story. Our spring turkey hunts are normally very successful and a great way to get youth hunters involved in hunting.
A good way to start out a youth turkey hunting, is with an experienced guide. Most guides gain more knowledge in one year of guiding turkey hunts than a hunter will achieve in five years on his own. All of our turkey guides enjoy teaching others how to become a better turkey hunter. Using a guide your first year or two will save you many years of mistakes and possible frustration.
When taking youth hunters out for the first time, we like to have them hunt out of ground blinds. This gives the youth hunter, parent, and guide plenty of room. It also allows the youth hunter a little more movement when waiting for that gobbler.
A Turkey Hunting Tradition
Your stay with us is more than a turkey hunt. It’s part of a strong hunting tradition that started back when Heartland’s owner, Gary Harpole, was a child. Each year new traditions are being created by our guests. It’s our hope that you create your own memories with your family at Heartland and carry on a tradition that began many years ago.
Illinois youth turkey season falls the weekend before the regular spring turkey season begins. (This is normally around the first weekend in April.) The special youth turkey season is a great time to be in the turkey woods. The majority of our youth turkey hunters come during the regular spring turkey season, so dad or mom can hunt too.
Anyone born after 1980 is required to have a hunter safety card to hunt in Illinois. If you do not have a hunter safety number, Illinois offers a one-time Apprentice License that is good for a year. Turkey permits have to be purchased in advance. Depending if you are resident or nonresident will determine when you apply for your turkey permit. As long as you apply before the applicable deadlines, you should not have any problems obtaining a spring turkey permit. Tags for the special youth turkey season are sold over the counter.
Our youth turkey hunts are half price when hunting with a paid adult. At Heartland Lodge, we considered anyone 16 yrs. or younger a youth hunter. For the special youth turkey season, the IDNR requires the youth hunter to be under 16 yrs. old. The adult and youth will be hunting together with one guide and both hunters can harvest a turkey. If you would like for the youth hunter to have their own private guide, this can be arranged but the youth discount then would not apply.
1) Have an adult shoot the gun before the hunt with the heavy loads the youth will be hunting with. Make sure it patterns well and you know the maximum distance the gun will shoot.
2) Use light load shells when youth are practicing as the biggest fear for most youth is how much the gun kicks. Use the heavier loads for hunting that were sighted in by an adult. The youth will not notice the kick when they pull the trigger on that gobbler!
3) Make sure your youth hunter is wearing full camouflage and a facemask. Even if you are hunting out of a ground blind, you never know when you may need to move.
4) Teach your youth hunter how to sit still. Don’t make them sit still the entire time but pick out 10 or 15 minutes and have them sit completely still.
5) Teach your youth hunter to walk quietly in the woods. Teach them not to drag their feet and step on sticks, leaves, etc.
6) Hunt out of a ground blind. This allows a lot more flexibility than hunting in the open.
7) The youth hunter should hunt with an experienced guide or hunter until they harvest their first bird. This will provide a positive experience.
8) Have your youth turkey hunter bring a book or something fun to do in the blind. The main thing is for them to have a positive experience. When the hunting gets slow, make sure they don’t get bored.
9) Don’t over hunt them. Sitting in a blind for long hours is difficult for an adult let alone a child. If they start to get bored, end the hunt. You want to make sure they are always having a good time.
10) A great way to break up the morning is to take your youth turkey hunter out for breakfast during that lull period. This normally is after the birds fly down off the roost and when the gobblers are still with the hens. Make sure you get back for the late morning action when those gobblers are coming back looking for that hen (you) they heard off the roost.
11) Have your youth hunter watch turkey hunting videos before they hunt. Good turkey hunting videos are a great way to gain a lot of knowledge in a short amount of time. You will be amazed how much they will pick up from hunting videos.
12) Give your youth hunter some turkey calls to play and practice with when you are not hunting. Slate and box calls are both great turkey calls to get your youth hunter involved.
13) The most important tip is to teach youth hunters that hunting is not about harvesting an animal but about enjoying nature, the outdoors and time with family. If you harvest an animal, it is just a bonus. The big picture is the memories that will be created and the beginning of a tradition that will last a lifetime.