Ten of thirty-four youth hunters were successful during the Third annual “Operation Matchup” event held during the recent 2005 Illinois Heritage Youth Turkey Hunt. The New Salem Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation again advertised for both prospective landowners and youth participants, then matched the young hunters with volunteer guides from the local chapter membership.
Landowners in both Menard and Cass counties supported the event, and some youth hunters were able to hunt at nearby JEPC (Site M.)
The local event complemented a special two-day statewide turkey season open only to Illinois residents who have not reached their 16th birthday by April 2nd.
A “hunting camp” experience for Friday night and throughout the weekend was again created at the Oakford Community Center and the Trading Post Tavern, where food was provided and hunting stories were swapped. All area youth hunters were invited to participate in the Oakford events, even if they did not need to be matched up with local guides or landowners.
The successful 2005 youth hunters were Aimee Domescik, Nick Flesher, Levi Carlock, Olivia Staab, Zach Smith, Robbie Wahlbrink, Braden Brown, Brady Webb, Austen King, and Zach Holliday. The local 29% success rate far exceeded the 19% overall state success record for 2005. The photos at right show the six turkeys harvested on Saturday.
In addition to the ten youth who bagged turkeys, six had shots but missed, and two of the experienced youth hunters passed on easy shots at young “Jakes” while hoping that a trophy gobbler would come by later.
According to New Salem Longbeards president Doug King, “We wanted to again provide high quality turkey hunting experiences to local youth hunters, especially those who would otherwise not have an opportunity to hunt. For example, several of our hunters again came from non-hunting families. Participants from last year’s event were also encouraged to reapply, except for those whose 16th birthday preceded the deadline.”
The New Salem Longbeards chapter has received national recognition for the innovative approaches used in holding their first two “Operation Matchup” events, which were held in 2003 and 2004. Four of the fourteen participating 2003 youth hunters bagged turkeys in both Menard and Cass counties, and a record twelve of the nineteen 2004 youth hunters were successful.
Story and photos by Larry Dale
Related Feature Items:
Aimee Domescik Story
Outreach Event Details
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