Shortly after sunrise on a beautiful Saturday morning, 15-year-old Andrew, with the assistance of his mentor Jeremy Golla bagged the first bird of the hunt, 22.1 lbs., 1″ spur, and 11-½ and 10-½ double beards. Shortly afterward, veteran Jeremy with mentors Anthony and Terry, bagged his turkey, 21.3 lbs., 7/8″ spur and 9″ beard.
Then, at 7:35 am, 11-year-old Colt downed his gobbler, 23.2 lbs., 3/4″ spur, and 9″ beard. Mike Gruber, his mentor, and his father were ecstatic for the young man. Afterward, at 8:30 am, 15-year-old Mason got a nice 23.2 lbs. tom with 1-1/16″ spur and 10-1/2″ beard with assistance from his mentor Bob.
Then at 8:56 am, veteran Michael tipped the scales with his gobbler weighing 23.6 lbs. with 1″ spur and 10-1/2″ beard with the guidance of his mentor Zach. It was 10:45 when veteran Erik, with his mentor Ryan, bagged a 16.7 lbs. tom with a 1/4″ spur and 4-1/4″ beard.
With six birds down and only three hunters left, the growing excitement among the group was exhilarating. Following a delicious lunch, Rosie, Shane, and Adam headed out to their blinds with their mentors.
Around 3:40 pm, good news arrived back at camp that Rosie had bagged a 22.1 lbs. tom with a 7/8″ spur and 8-3/4″ beard. Johnny Lane said, “The tom came right up to the jake decoy, and Rosie handled it like a pro. One-shot and flipped it right over. Rosie exclaimed, “I was very excited; it was an awesome feeling! An experience I will never forget!”
John Haydock, USSA Wisconsin Rep, gave Rosie a big hug and said, “That’s an awesome bird, and you did it! Rosie responded, “It was exciting and a lot of good emotions! It took a lot of patience.”
As the sun began to set and ten minutes of shooting time left, good news arrived that Shane had bagged a 23.2lbs. tom with 1-1/4″ spurs and 9-3/4″ and 5″ double beards. When they pulled into camp, Shane put the tailgate down and picked up his bird to show the crowd. Everyone was excited and gave him hearty congratulations. Shane said, “The turkey was coming across us, and I didn’t see it at first, and my mentors Marlin and Mark pointed me to it. Then the bird started to take off again, walked away, it did it twice, and I went for it.” His cousin Jameson added, “After taking the shot, Shane and his mentor Mark’s eyes were wide as ever, and their mouth dropped open. They were both so excited they almost knocked me out of my chair!”
The following morning veteran Adam with his experienced mentor Jess, bagged his 12.1 lbs. turkey with 1/8″ spur and 4-1/4″ and 3-1/8″ double beards. He said, “Healing comes in many forms. But when you are willing to try something new. It opens your eyes to new things. I left the Marines 10 years ago feeling lost. This journey hasn’t been easy. Yes, I have my daily and weekly challenges but don’t give up. Live life to the fullest.”
Haydock added, “Our mentors REALLY put in some time scouting, but they were also flexible and willing to check their egos at the door to provide the best opportunities for our hunters!”
Thanks to USSA’s Junction City volunteers for their hard work and dedication and the mentors and generous landowners who helped make these rewarding hunts possible. Shout out to Warden Nick Hefter, Johnny Lane’s Magnificant calling and decoying presentation, and their ‘skilled bird dresser’ Raymond. Congratulations to all the kids, adults, and veterans for getting their first turkey! God bless!
If you know of a deserving child or veteran who might want to attend a free fishing or hunting trip, please contact United Special Sportsman Alliance.