• Governor’s Hunt April 27-28
    By Dennis Jensen
    STAFF WRITER | March 31,2013
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    Photo by Dennis Jensen

    A tom turkey in strut is shown in Castleton. The first Governor’s Youth Turkey Hunt in Vermont will be held April 27 and 28.
    Don Isabelle bumped into Gov. Peter Shumlin at a restaurant in Bristol last summer and told him he had an idea. That idea has blossomed into the first Governor’s Youth Turkey Hunt, to be held April 27 and 28.

    Isabelle, a Vermont game warden for more than 25 years and president of the Rutland Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, is fashioning the youth hunt on one held in Missouri.

    Isabelle learned of the Missouri hunt from his son Jason, who now resides there, and said he wondered if a similar hunt could be held in Vermont.

    “Jason’s involved with the Missouri Governor’s Youth Hunt,” Isabelle said in an interview. “He’s one of the guides. He told me about it and I thought it would be a great idea for Vermont.”

    When Isabelle met Shumlin in Bristol, the governor was all ears.

    “He thought it was a great idea. He’s a hunter and he wanted me to pursue it. I contacted some folks in Missouri and get some ideas for the youth hunt from them. And the members of the Vermont chapter (of the NWTF) also thought it was a great idea,” Isabelle said.

    Youths who want to participate have only until tomorrow, April 1, to register for the hunt. Any youth, 15 or younger who has completed a hunter safety course, can take part.

    Details on how to apply can be found on the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Web site (vtfishandwildlife.com). Go to the site, click on Hunting and Trapping. Then click Youth Hunting. Then go to List of Upcoming Youth events. You can register there. There is no fee.

    As part of Shumlin’s endorsement of the event, the governor will attend a luncheon on April 21 at the Waterbury Fish & Game Club, where he will lead a discussion about the importance of the hunting tradition in Vermont.

    That same date, April 21, will also be Jakes Day at the Waterbury Fish & Game Club, according to Isabelle. Jakes (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship) Day will offer young hunters a turkey calling seminar, show them how to properly pattern their shotguns, have a demonstration on how to preserver a tom turkey’s tail fan and beard, as well as other activities. The event is open to the public and there is no admission charge.

    The following weekend, April 27 and 28, young hunters who have registered with Fish & Wildlife will be able to take part in a guided turkey hunt.

    Isabelle said that the number of youth hunters across the country, as well as in Vermont, is on the decline. Isabelle said that programs such as the Governor’s Youth Turkey Hunt could help to reverse that trend.

    “It’s going to be a great experience for young people,” he said. “A youth can go out with an experienced turkey hunter. What better way is there to get hooked on gobblers than going out with experienced hunters who can teach them the ins and outs of turkey hunting?”

    All youth hunters who participate in the two-day hunt, whether or not they are part of the Governor’s Youth Turkey Hunt, must be accompanied by an unarmed and licensed adult, 18 or older.

    It is not only the young person who gains a great deal from the youth turkey hunt, but the mentor as well, Isabelle said.

    “Most mentors I know get more out of taking a youth out and teaching a youth hunter than they do by going out by themselves,” he said. “I know I do. It’s great to see a first-time hunter harvest an animal. That’s more important than me harvesting an animal.”

    Statewide, members of the NWTF, including Isabelle, will lend their time as mentors to take out the young hunters, stressing safety in the woods, calling birds, woodsmanship and having fun.

    Forrest Hammond, the wild turkey team leader for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, said he also believes the Governor’s Youth Turkey Hunt is a great idea.

    “I think it’s great,” he said. “It’s all designed as an outreach effort to celebrate turkey hunting and try to bring more turkey hunters into the effort.”

    Vermont’s youth turkey hunt began in 2002. Last year, youth hunters tagged 614 birds, the fourth-highest kill on record, Hammond said.

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