|Junior hunters in San Diego County enjoyed a very successful ending to the spring turkey season with the help of some very dedicated mentors and the cooperation of the San Diego Fish and Wildlife Advisory Commission and the San Diego Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.
The hunt that took place May 19 and 20 was originally scheduled for the weekend of March 13, but due to snow and wet roads the hunt at the Santa Ysabel East Open Space Preserve had to be canceled. Juniors and archery hunters were allowed to hunt spring turkey through May 20 by way of the season set by the California Department of Fish and Game.
According to information passed on to Western Outdoor News the weather for closing weekend was warm and the roads into the area were dry. A total of 20 junior hunters headed out with a knowledgeable turkey mentor and legal guardian at their side in hopes of locating a gobbler and enjoying a great hunting experience.
A press release from the chapter made reference to the fact that these junior hunters were chosen by drawing at the Spring Turkey Tune Up event that is held annually at Lake Sutherland. Of the 65 applicants 20 were chosen for the hunt and two of the juniors were girls. On hunt day May 19 there were 4 alternates who took the place of juniors who were either sick or had conflicts with the hunt dates.
Hunter success was high as 5 gobblers were harvested even though the mid-May date was well past the peak of the gobbling period. On day two of the hunt, May 20, there was one alternate and that boy was able to bag a long beard turkey. Only one of the 5 successful hunters had previously bagged a turkey prior to this year's hunt.
The release went on to state, "From the expressed view points of all mentors, guardians and hunters, the hunt was a resounding success. The junior hunters were able to quickly grain new knowledge about the tradition of wild turkey hunting that they would not have been able to learn without this unique experience. All heard gobbling and most saw birds."
WON checked in with Steve Turigliatto, one of the mentors, who guided a junior hunter and the boy ended up shooting a big tom. The following is a first person report on how the hunt developed.
"Jeff Booten and his 13 year old son Drake met at my house at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday and we were in Julian by 3:30, to our parking spot by 4:30 and at a spot where I thought we had a chance for a gobbler by 5:30. By 7:30 we had heard just a few gobbles in the distance, but nothing close and nothing interested. At this point, I decided it's time to start running and gunning.
The first meadow we checked had nothing, but the second area had 2 long beards, 2 hens and 4 jakes feeding up hill. We were pretty much pinned down, so we waited til they were out of sight and then tried to move on them. I don't know if they saw us or they just got up hill in a hurry, but they did get above us.
At 8:30 I decide it's time to start working our way up and out of the canyon calling as we moved. At about 9:30 we were about at the half-way point to my van. At that spot I thought we might be above the birds, so we set up putting out 2 DSD decoys and set up to face downhill. Hitting a box call instantly got a gobble, but I didn't know from where. I hit it again and it seems to be above us and to the east. One more time and it's a no doubter...above & east! Me and Drake spin around the oak tree.
The birds seem closer so I switch to a Zink diaphragm call...boom...a lot closer now and coming. I wait a few minutes and hit again...multiple gobbles, on the dirt road and around a bend. Next thing we see are 7 toms ( 2 long beards and 5 jakes) running down that road. The big boy in front sees my jake decoy and goes into full strut. At the same time the jakes pass him up, but he is not having any of that and then he passes them up and is now stopped at 30 yards. I tell Drake to take him and the young boy was on target as a load of Hevi-shot #5's drops the gobbler dead. It was a beautiful tom sporting a 10½-inch beard, 1-inch spurs and weighed 18.4 pounds. It was a great first bird for anyone, Hell a great 50th bird for any turkey hunter."
The San Diego Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Escondido Fish and Game Association will be co-hosting a Jakes Event in Escondido (at Lake Wohlford) on June 30 starting at 8 a.m. The event program will cover a safety seminar, black powder rifle, archery and tomahawk throw, .22 rifle, BB gun and shotgun shooting and wildlife management. There will be prizes for all jakes present and a BBQ lunch and beverages will be served. Young hunters need to register by June 22 and the event is FREE for all J.A.K.E.S and only $5 for adults. To register log on to sandiegoturkey.com or contact Steve Turigliatto at (760) 803-4868. The event is sponsored by: the Col. Bob Becker Memorial Fund, the Alabama Street Athletic, Triumph Fabrication Club, Apex Plumbing, Rowan Electric, Halcyon Electric and the San Diego Chapter of the NWTF.
YOUTH TURKEY HUNTER SUCCESS — Junior hunter Drake Booten was successful in shooting this big gobbler on closing weekend of the spring season while on a hunt with mentor Steve Turigliatto and father, Jeff. The hunt took place on the 3800-acre Santa Ysabel East Open Space Preserve in San Diego County and was hosted by the San Diego chapter of the NWTF and the San Diego Fish and Wildlife Advisory Commission and approved by the San Diego Board of Supervisors. PHOTO COURTESY OF STEVE TURIGLIATTO