Our Youth Wild Turkey Hunt is a weekend hunt and we invite all kids, from first time hunters to youth gobble pros to apply for a one of a kind hunt with Matt and The Light Foundation. Participants spend all weekend with us at our Chenoweth Trails facility on Greenville-Nashville Rd; we provide sleeping arrangement and meals. Requirements for participation; 12-17 years old on the day of the hunt, a resident of Darke County, a valid Ohio hunting license and a completed application. Please check the application for dates and essay requirements. Essays are anonymously graded and the top 16 essays are selected to join us for the hunt. In regard to hunting, The Light Foundation will provide professional guides, guns, ammo, blinds and camo hunting vests. Bagging a bird will be up to you. Our 2017 Hunt has ended, we will post the 2018 applications in December.
I was thrilled to be chosen for the 4th time to participate in the Matt Light Turkey Hunt in 2017. I was paired with my now good friend Austin Wolfe and our guide Wade, who I had hunted with two years previously, a very professional turkey caller and hunter from New York.
The three of us left the camp early Saturday morning. On the way to the blind, we flipped a coin to see who would get the first shot at the bird, and I won over Austin. We got a late start because we had trouble finding our blind in the dark, but once we did find it and Wade set up his decoys, we were ready. Thirty minutes later as we were settled in the blind with our guns ready, we heard a turkey roosting in the tree directly above us. Wade then looked at me and Austin and said, “He’s right freaking above us.” Five minutes later, we heard what we thought were three other turkeys, two to our left and one in the field below us. Wade quickly realized the one in the field was another hunter. Shortly after, the birds started coming down from their roost, but Wade knew they would not come to our decoys for a shot because we were directly below them. When the one right above us flew down, it actually hit our blind with its wing. Five minutes later, we heard them running around us not more than fifteen yards away, gobbling and gobbling, we waited patiently for them to come to our open window in the blind, but they never did. We kept circulating around the blind opening windows in the direction they were gobbling, but it just never worked out that day. Even though Saturday was unsuccessful in killing a bird, we felt accomplished because of all the action that we had seen,
We knew when we woke up Sunday, that this was our last chance. Wade had moved the blind, and we had gotten up even earlier to make sure we were settled into the woods. On our way to the blind, we felt the last day pressure, but we were confident in Wade. Thirty minutes into our hunt, we heard birds gobbling. Sure enough, the big Tom that we had heard gobbling the morning before was in the exact same tree. Wade asked me if I had heard him gobbling and I said yes. I told Wade that I could see him strutting in the tree about forty yards in front of us. Wade nearly jumped out of his skin when he realized I was right. We sat for about ten minutes taking pictures and videos, watching him and waiting for him to descend from the tree. Wade said judging by his cocky attitude and the way he was strutting around, it was pretty clear this bird thought he was king of the woods.
Five minutes later, we heard two hens and one other Jake. We heard a squeaky noise coming from the field in front of us, and Wade realized it was once again another hunter. That’s when Austin and I looked at each other and grinned, because we knew the game was on. But, of course, with Wade being the professional that he is, when the bird flew down, it came right to our decoys. Wade nudged me on the knee and told me to get my gun up and ready. Once he saw it come in, he whispered, “It’s a freaking hog! Get ready!” I got my gun trained on the Tom’s head, and Wade asked me if I was ready. I said, ‘Yes.” And he replied with, “Kill him.” I remember squeezing the trigger and the bird dropping so fast that I thought I had missed him. But he started flapping on the ground dead.
We got out of the blind, and shared some handshakes and fist bumps. Wade was the first to the turkey. He looked at the chest and turned around with a big goofy grin on his face. He stuck his hand out and said, “You just killed a triple beard,’ After my initial shock, he explained to me what a great accomplishment this kill was. Wade said that in the twenty years he had been a guide, he had never seen a triple beard.
I’m very thankful for all my experiences at the Matt Light Turkey Hunt. I have made some great friends, learned from experienced guides, and although my hunts have not all been successful, I have had fun every year. Now, I have a story of my own.
Many area businesses have graciously stepped up to support the cause including sponsors: Applegate Livestock, Koenig Equipment, Frank Miller Lumber, Pheasants Forever, Eco-Vehicle Systems, LLC, the Jason Fleming Family, Bob Evans, Gander Mountain, Eikenberry’s IGA, Quaker Boy, Cabela’s, BASF, Aesthetic Finishers, Sharp’s Tavern, MaidRite, Frito Lay, Incorporated, Specialty Hybrid, Jerry’s Laundry, Channel Seed (SonLight), Mote Farm Service, Inc., Syngenta, FOE No. 2177 (Eagles), Thompson Center, Rural King, Bettker Taxidermy, Heavy Shot, and Mycogen. Firearms manufacturer Thompson Center continues to play a significant role, lending product support year after year.