Kids Bag Birds in the 13th Annual Illinois Dream Hunt

  1. Home
  2. News
  3. Kids Bag Birds in the 13th Annual Illinois Dream Hunt

Six young hunters, aged 10 to 14, traveled from Wisconsin to Camp Lowden in Oregon, IL, accompanied by their parents. Once they settled in, the young hunters went with their mentor to the local hardware store to purchase their hunting licenses. Afterward, they returned to camp and headed to the Boy Scouts’ shooting range for target practice.

Terry Day, the director, explained that they set up targets at around twenty yards. The special hunters are given guidance and support from their mentors until they can hit the target accurately. To ensure consistency, they use the same type of chair and shooting rest during their practice sessions and inside the blind. Terry mentioned that the Caldwell shooting rest has been beneficial in this regard, and these measures have played a significant role in ensuring safety during their training program and in the field.

Catherine, her father, brother, and mentor, Dakota Hall, arrived at their blind 30 minutes before sunrise. They ensured that Catherine’s gun rest and chair were in the correct position so that she could shoot comfortably and safely. They waited patiently for daybreak and finally heard the first gobble. Unfortunately, the birds from their setup were on the opposite side of the field. As the morning progressed, the birds eventually flew out of the roost. Dakota said, “At the time, I thought they flew down in the opposite direction, and we would be in for a long sit! Luckily, I was wrong! The birds moved into the timber and became silent. We had a few deer come through and give a show to keep us entertained.” It was a chilly morning, so Dakota turned on the heater. As soon as he did, he looked into the field and noticed two jakes heading their way. Dakota whispered that everyone should sit down and stay where they were, then got Catherine set up with the gun and told her to get ready! “Two toms behind the jakes noticed my strutting decoy and charged towards it. The moment they separated, I told Catherine it was okay to shoot! She got herself a gorgeous bird with a beard 9 1/2 inches, spurs 3/4 inches, and a memory to last a lifetime!”

Hunter, his father Jeremy, and mentor Todd Smith spotted some turkeys in the distance. Todd informed them that the toms usually broke loose from the hens around 9:30 am. Todd used his slate turkey call, and two nice toms came in and went after the decoy. It wasn’t long after Hunter made a perfect shot and bagged a nice tom with a 9-inch beard and 1/2-inch spurs. Everyone was hooting and hollering in the blind. Todd said, “Congratulations, good shot, buddy!” Hunter’s dad said, “Seeing the look on Hunter’s face when Todd congratulated him made me feel so proud of my son.

Khloe, his uncle Cory, and his mentor Gerry Grimm rode in a side-by-side vehicle to their blind. They heard turkeys gobbling all around them, but soon, a bobcat appeared at the crack of light and scared the turkeys away. Later, at around 11:30 am, they stood up to stretch and heard a turkey on the right side of the blind. Gerry used his box call, and before long, two turkeys appeared. While using a 20-gauge shotgun on a tripod, the young man sighted the turkey and made a perfect shot. Khole was highly excited and high-fived everyone. His tom had an 11 1/2-inch beard and 1 1/8-inch spurs.

Ky’s mentor, Dave Chapman, said, “On the first day, we heard 8 to 10 birds gobbling on the roost, but we had no luck in the morning. Later, we moved to blind two and spotted only one hen around noon. The forecast for day two was rain and storms with 40-50mph gusts. We heard plenty of birds on the roost in the morning, but they went the other way again. So, while it was raining, we planned to move to the other end of the farm. When the rain stopped, we made the move to a deer blind that was close to the area where we thought the birds were going. Around 10:30 am, we started to hear gobbles again. We had a pair of gobblers that kept working towards us. I told Ky to get ready, as this would happen fast. As the two birds had to fly across Kyte Creek to get to us, they flew up to where we were, but the first bird got past us before we could get ready. The second bird was lagging, so as he made his way towards us, Ky was able to get on her gobbler and dropped him with a 20 gauge heavy-weight TSS turkey load from 59 yards away. Ky was excited, to say the least, and so proud of her fight to stay positive and in the game. She insisted on wanting to clean her bird, and she did (with a bit of help) while her dad and mentors watched on.” Her turkey weighed 24.5 lbs. and had a 10 1/2-inch beard.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Terry Day, our dedicated mentors and volunteers, the generous landowners, and the NWTF Rock River Turkey Chapter. Your steadfast support and dedication have contributed to the great success of the Illinois Dream Hunt. Congratulations to the young hunters who have successfully bagged a turkey. The time they shared with their mentors and parents will live long after their hunts. God bless!

If you are interested in getting involved or know of a deserving child or veteran, don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected].