For the Light Foundation, the Ohio Youth Wild Turkey Hunt kicks off annual programming that is filled with fun, education, and focuses on building leadership skills in young kids. This past weekend we welcomed sixteen young hunters, mostly beginners, to our Darke County facility, Chenoweth Trails, to spend the entire weekend completely in the outdoors!
Before the guided hunt we invited them to join our experienced guides, spotters, sponsors, landowners, volunteers, and staff for a Kick-Off Dinner. During the meal provided by Winner’s Meats and Sharp’s Tavern, the youth hunters learned more about our nonprofit organization, and participated in a safety talk provided by Matt Hoehn from Ohio Division of Natural Resources – Division of Wildlife
After the Kick-Off Dinner, the kids made their way back to camp, where there’s an outdoor kitchen, turf field, gaga pit, fire pit, tree house, and yurts – everything a young person could dream of enjoying during a weekend outdoor stay! The first thing they got to check out was the timber frame structure treehouse that some of the youth participated in constructing during our Timber Frame Leadership Camp last July. It was a short evening of fun, since their alarms would be ringing at 4:00 AM in order to be able to eat breakfast and get in the blinds before the wild turkeys would be flying down from their roosts.
The first wake-up call was easy since they knew they were heading into a day spent completely in the outdoors and had a breakfast meal provided by Bob Evans and Beanz Buttercream Bakery waiting on them. I mean, have you ever had their breakfast treats? It’s nothing to sleep on!
The sun was starting to rise, and the turkeys were gobbling, so off they went! At 7 AM, the first bird went down by Libby Harter who was guided by her father, Todd Harter. Shortly after, Lance Greer accomplished the goal with Grand National Champion Callmaker and owner of Shadetree Callers, Bob Fulcher. After that excitement, the morning began to slow down and the turkeys became quieter, so the kids headed back to camp for lunch and more learning opportunities, courtesy of Bob Fulcher and Dwight “Bufford” Edwards, retired Wildlife Officer. They also had an opportunity to participate in a tomahawk activity and shoot at a moving target.
After a dinner of pizzas made by the pizza master Kole Strickland in our wood-fired pizza oven with home-made crust provided by Clark’s Pizza House, a few hunters had a chance to go back into the turkey woods to spot the wild turkeys heading back to their roosts. Two hunters had success that evening — Brock Durst with his guide, Jody Goatley, and Michael Menke and Trevar Martin with their guide, Jeff Martin! This had the rest of the campers excited to go back in the morning to attempt to capture a bird before the youth season ended.
Off they went for day two, after a home cooked breakfast meal made by Dixie Sonner, long-time Foundation volunteer! The first one to come back to camp with a bird on this day was our fearless leader, Matt Light, and his youth hunter, Caleb Hartman. Soon after, Wyatt Rammel and his guide, Wade Tupper bagged a bird that was later identified as the “Best Bird of the Weekend!” Finally, Carrie Rhoades and guide Teri Kline came back screaming “GIRL POWER” after they harvested a bird. That wrapped up the hunt with a total of seven youth accomplishing their hunting goal. The most exciting part was five of them had never bagged a bird before this weekend!
The young hunters are welcomed into the Ohio Youth Wild Turkey Hunt with an understanding that not everyone will have the opportunity to capture a bird during the two-day hunt. They are reminded often that the sport of hunting has one guarantee – that they’ll have the opportunity to be outdoors, learning key lessons from an experienced guide that has a wealth of knowledge. The youth hunters are encouraged to soak up as much information, tips, and tricks that will help them become safe, successful hunters in the future.
There are a lot of components that make this hunt possible, which includes our guides, spotters, landowners, volunteers, sponsors, and our staff.
Thank you to the guides: Matt Light, Todd Harter, Wade Tupper, Jody Goatley, Bob Fulcher, Bufford, Andy Turpen, Ernie Calandrelli, Teri Kline, Jeff Martin, Kim Strickland, Taylor Armstrong, and Mike Hardy.
A big nod of gratitude to our spotters: Dave Brown, Nick Camacho, Daren Hiatt, Howie Shafer, and Steve Lipps.
Props to our volunteers: Dixie Sonner, Jenna Godown, Hope Schaaf, Ivee Brubaker, and Kole Strickland.
Kudos to all of the landowners who allowed the youth to hunt on their property.
And finally, a big thank you to our sponsors: Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, Moose Lodge #329, Thompson Center, GSM Outdoors/Walkers/Hunter Specialty, Mossy Oak, Primos, On X Hunt, Quaker Boy, Stachler Concrete, ALPS Outdoorz, American Legion Post #140, Bettker Taxidermy, Koenig Equipment, ODNR Division of Wildlife, Pheasants Forever, Primos, Sharp’s Tavern, Winners Meats, Bob Evans, Channel Seed (SonLight), Clark’s Pizza, Eikenberry’s IGA, Francis Furniture, Frank Miller Lumber, Mote Farm Service, Specialty Hybrid, Vandalia Range & Armory, VPP, Whistle Stop, Kristi’s Cakes and Leslie Gunckle.