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Saturday, July 20, 2024
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Gobbles and Grins

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I sure am happy to report that the breeding activity amongst the local turkey flocks is really on the rise. I’ve spent a good many mornings in all corners of Hernando County listening out for gobbling and surveying the flocks as they fly down from their roosts. The dominant toms have fairly established their harems and the hens are quick to respond to the gobbles and arrive shortly after fly down to visit with their chosen tom.
That’s all good news for the opening day of youth-turkey-season here in the northern zone. The kids, which are fortunate enough to get outside with a parent or mentor, should really enjoy a show. Now with the dominant toms earning the overwhelming attention of the hens, the subordinate toms will be actively jockeying for any hen love they can get and will be quick to respond to some lovesick pleas, played on your favorite call. In short, the jakes and two year old bachelors will be first to arrive. Early morning harvests mean short hunts and big, wide grins for the kiddos and that’s always a great thing when you have the little guys in tow.
As for myself, there’s been four different changes in the schedule, but my final hunt schedule for this weekend consists of an eight year old, young lady out for her first gobbler on Saturday and a nine year old young lady out for her first gobbler as well. Their dads were elated that the opportunities became available and I believe they are just as excited as their daughters. In order to keep them comfortable, they’ll be hunting out of ground blinds; camouflaged, pop-up tents to afford them the chance to move around a bit if they need to. And with any luck, the blinds will help keep out the mosquitoes too.
Kids are all about success. They want that instant gratification, like what they see when they’re watching the TV hunting shows. Those silly TV shows will show three or four successful hunts during their hour of air time, when the reality of it is, it could possibly take hours upon hours of waiting patiently for that first opportunity. Knowing that, if the birds don’t arrive shortly after fly-down, there’s two big tips I’ll offer you, which have really paid off for me over the years: snacks and games.
When kids get restless, feed them. I keep a Ziploc bag stocked with chunks of beef jerky, oreos and assorted other quiet treats. Keep some juice boxes or bottles of water on hand to wash them down and usually that will keep them occupied for a while. Otherwise, pull up some games on your phone or an I-pad. I’m not a fan of such things in the woods, but really it will help them stick it out and keep their spirits high. Just remember to turn OFF the sound!
As always, if you have any comments, questions or just want to share your success from the woods, give me a shout out at [email protected]. God Bless, Good Hunting!

Toby Benoit
Toby Benoit
Toby Benoit is a best selling novelist and professional outdoorsman with thirty-five years of experience guiding and outfitting for big game all across America. Toby is a renowned archer and turkey hunting expert who manufactures custom game calls and is a regular judge at NWTF sanctioned turkey calling events across the Southeast.
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