For the third year in a row, the Light Foundation teamed up with Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Division of Fish & Wildlife and Rhode Island Environmental Police to provide ten young people with an experience of a lifetime filled with turkey hunting alongside mentors and leadership activities during the Youth Wild Turkey Hunt.
The youth hunters were selected through an application process that entailed them writing a 500-word essay on the topic: Focus vs. Distractions. The ten selected youth hunters were: Julian Bernhoft, Zane Hill, Ethan Osenkowski, Björn Kjörneberg, Jared Minick, Emma Roeben, Cathryn McQuesten, Avery Lough, Domenic Musto, and Jack Ragosta.
It all started at Addieville East Farm where the young people brought their families to enjoy a meal catered by Gotta-Q BBQ – thanks to Big Bear Hunting & Fishing! During the Kick-Off Dinner, they also sighted in their firearms with certified instructors and participated in a safety talk with Josh Beuth, RI Wildlife Enforcment Officer. After making plans for the next morning and chatting with their mentors, they headed back to Pheasant Ridge Lodge where they stayed for the duration of the program.
We wasted no time jumping into an educational session on turkey calling provided by Armond Cugno and Chuck Dupont with Massachusetts NWTF. After that wrapped up, they enjoyed s’mores over the fire and a leadership session with their chaperones – Troy Eden and Brandi Turner, Light Foundation staff. They also had a chance to earn their swag bags that were stuffed with all the turkey gear necessary for a hunt – tshirts, gloves, turkey calls, OnX memberships, safety gear, and other items provided by our long list of sponsors!
Alarms were buzzing, breakfast burritos were steaming, and mentors were arriving – all around 3 am! That was just the start of their exciting day — it didn’t take long for reports of successful harvests to start rolling in. Everyone gathered back at the lodge before noon to enjoy chicken, fries, and salad from Wright’s Farm Restaurant. Stories were shared and laughs were had. Whether they harvested a bird or not, the kids and mentors had a blast experiencing New England’s beautiful outdoors. They learned about the hard work hunting entails and gained a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for nature.
An afternoon of cleaning and preparing the harvested turkeys, trying some wild turkey on the grill and some other Earth Day and leadership activities rounded out another successful mentored youth wild turkey hunt! The Light Foundation would like to thank the entire RI DEM staff, landowners, over 30 mentors, volunteers, and sponsors who worked countless hours gearing up for this weekend and those who generously opened their properties for another safe and successful hunt – helping build the next generation of conservationists. It would not be possible without them!
There were many local and nationally recognized hunting brands who stepped up to help make this youth hunt possible. A huge thank you goes to our Boss Gobbler Sponsor: DEM of Rhode Island. The Big Tom Sponsors include Lacrosse Footwear, Mossy Oak, Addieville East Farm, and Pheasant Ridge Lodge. Next are the Full Strut Sponsors: Rhode Island Whitetails – we can’t wait to see the video they create, Desmos Photos, Bass Pro & Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, Thompson Center, Glocester Land Trust, Big Bear Hunting & Fishing, Rolling Thunder, Rhode Island 2nd Amendment Coalition, Federated Rhode Island Sportsmen’s Clubs, and Wright’s Farm Restaurant. Also, our Long Beard Sponsors: Winchester Ammunition and Quaker Boy. Our thanks also goes to our Gobbler Sponsors: Sarge Knives, ALPS Outdoorz, National Wild Turkey Federation, Primos, OnX Hunt, and Woodhaven Custom Calls.