Youth Turkey Hunt Emphasizes Education, Ethics and Safety

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Seven youth and their parents and guardians, along with officials and volunteers from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, participated in the annual Meeker Spring Youth Turkey Hunt April 8-10.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife/Courtesy photo

On a cold, windy weekend in early April, seven young turkey hunters and their mentors huddled quietly on pristine private land outside of Meeker, scanning the terrain for their elusive prey.

Taking part in their first turkey hunt, the youngsters battled the frigid air and their own nervous excitement, listening to the whispered hints and tips of their expert advisers. When a turkey finally appeared, the young hunters put their newfound gun safety education to use, carefully aiming their shotguns and pulling the trigger.

While four of the seven young hunters were able to bring home a turkey for their family’s dinner table this year, according to the mission of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Hunter Outreach Program, the focus of the hunt It was education, ethics and safety.

Held in honor of CPW Officer Jon Wangnild, who died in 2013, the annual hunt is led by South Meeker District Wildlife Manager Bailey Franklin. Along with other CPW officers and volunteers, they provide the critical mentorship novice hunters need to hunt safely and ethically.

“All of these kids dreamed of hunting turkey but couldn’t for a variety of reasons, mainly because they didn’t have a mentor,” Franklin said. “Thanks to the expert advice and equipment provided by CPW, the hard work, dedication and generosity of many local people, these young hunters are now experienced and knowledgeable. Most of these kids are now able to hunt wild turkey on their own and may become mentors in the future.”

Hunting is one of Colorado’s most cherished traditions and is critical to the successful management of the state’s wildlife. In addition, it encourages young people to maintain a healthy lifestyle with outdoor activities as a priority.

The seven youth participants in this year’s turkey hunt were Toren and Tilden Gates, Thomas Theos, Jake Grieser, Myles and Parker Dupire, and Jacob Roberts.

Prior to the hunt, each rookie, along with their parent or guardian, participated in an in-person orientation learning turkey biology, turkey hunting strategies, firearm safety, and practice shooting practice with shotguns. Once in the field, they learned to scout, track, and identify signs of turkey activity.

CPW received help from landowners who allowed access to their private land.

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Young turkey hunters Myles and Parker Dupire, their father and grandfather attend a pre-shotgun safety orientation with Colorado Parks and Wildlife Officer Mike Swaro.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife/Courtesy photo

Additionally, Travis Flaherty, Tom Hazelton, Dusty Allen, Nick Fetchik and Curtis Keetch supported the Northwest Region Hunter Outreach Program by volunteering their time and equipment to guide and mentor four of the young hunters.

“We are very grateful to have dedicated and generous partners who believe in what we are doing,” said Franklin. “They are actively involved in helping instill a love of the outdoors and hunting in our future generation, and that benefits everyone.”

Landowners or volunteers interested in supporting CPW’s youth hunting programs in northwestern Colorado are encouraged to call the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Meeker office at 970-878-6090.

Anyone interested in learning more about youth hunting opportunities can call the same number and request an application for upcoming youth hunts.

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The 2022 Young Turkey Hunters with turkeys include, from left, Jacob Roberts and Tilden Gates in the front row, and Myles Dupire, Parker Dupire, Thomas Theos, Jake Grieser and Toren Gates in the back row.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife/Courtesy photo

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Young turkey hunter Myles Dupire and grandfather Bob Thompson.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife/Courtesy photo

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Young turkey hunter Tilden Gates with his first gobbler.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife/Courtesy photo

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