Part of the thrill of writing this article is when I get to relive some of the adventures of local hunters or fishermen when they relate their stories to me. I know I wasn’t there at the time, but to hear them tell it, I felt as if I was right along with them.
So goes the adventure of Madalyn Robbins of Princeton. Last week was Youth Weekend in Illinois and she got up early with her father, Jeff, to try their luck at turkey hunting. They left home about 4:30 a.m. and headed out to the farm where they were set up to hunt. They walked out into the pasture and knelt to listen. It was kind of windy, but Jeff tried his call anyway. They waited, then called, then waited, then called ... nothing. So they decided to move closer to the timber.
At the edge of the timber, they heard an owl call, so Jeff got his owl call out and hooted. This time, they heard a response far away. They moved farther into the timber and set up two decoys in a spot about 25 yards from a big tree. They went back to the tree and sat down with Madalyn between Jeff’s legs and her gun across her lap.
Now it was calling time. Jeff called and there was an answer at 100 yards. Then call, answer at 80. Then 60, then 40. Then they saw the tom. He strutted around the decoys and Madalyn’s heart kicked into high gear. But now the tom was too close to shoot.
Then he walked the other direction allowing Madalyn time to raise her gun up to shoot. Finally the distance was OK, so she shot. A miss, and the tom took off and escaped. She was disappointed, but still shaking and breathing hard from the excitement. They decided to take a break and left for coffee and donuts.
They came back about 9 a.m. and walked around the timber from the other direction. They called and walked, then stopped. This time, there was an answer. Again they set up the decoys and soon after he called, four jakes showed up and began to strut. Madalyn picked out the biggest one and shot. This time she got the jake. He was trying to hobble away, so Madalyn reloaded, got up, and finished him. Her reactions were again similar. She was shaking and breathing hard, but this time it was accompanied with a big smile. She was elated. Madalyn told her dad, “Dad, my heart was pounding and my legs were shaking, but I got him.”
Jeff told me that he didn’t care if he never got another tom, that morning shared with his daughter was a never to be forgotten experience.
• Also during youth turkey weekend, the local chapter of the NWTF was active when they took a youth hunting. Chase Lott was guided by Kurt Freeburg on a local turkey hunt. They didn’t get a tom, but a young man got an opportunity thanks to the NWTF.
• There were 10 youths who participated — eight boys and two girls — in the Bureau County Pheasants Forever spring youth hunt on March 23. I talked to a parent of one of the hunters and he reported that his son had a great time. The fact that he could hunt behind a good bird dog handled by an experienced hunter really made it a great hunt. All 10 hunters were successful.
Special thanks goes out to Bureau County Chapter of Pheasants Forever and to Sand Prairie Hunt Club for hosting this event and supporting our youth.
• Finally, Mr. and Mrs. Doug Mink, on Fifth Street, got to witness an unusual event in Princeton. Last week, about 2 or 2:30 p.m., they happened to see a bald eagle swoop down on Fifth Street and pick up a dead squirrel. The eagle then went just over the fence to the outfield of the baseball field to partake of the critter.
After about 10 minutes, some people came walking down Fifth Street and walked too close. The eagle then took off. It is unknown if he took his lunch with him.
Lee Wahlgren is the BCR outdoor columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.