Youth shoots first turkey

Ryan Dood, 13, of Iron River harvested a tom turkey on April 28 with hunting mentor Dale Ward and dad Rod (not pictured) during the Michigan spring wild turkey season. The 3-year-old bird weighed 20 1/2 pounds with 1-inch spurs.

By Janet Rohde
IRON RIVER—During this year’s spring turkey season, Ryan Dood, 13, was offered the opportunity to participate in a mentored turkey hunt in the Iron River area.
    Hunting mentor Dale Ward offered to take Ryan hunting along with his dad, Rod. The hunt took place on private land with permission from the owner.
    “The hunt was offered as a community outreach program for our area youth by Grace Covenant Church,” said Ward, “and part of the Michigan DNR youth mentoring turkey hunt program. Another organization involved with youth mentoring is Wildlife Unlimited of Iron County, with Rick Commenator in the lead. His organization offered mentored youth hunts for deer and bear for 12 years. Area vets have been serviced by WUIC, also.
    “National Wild Turkey Federation also offers mentoring programs, but there are no active branches in our area.”
    Ward explained that several area land owners were excited and felt it a privilege to be involved in such a worthwhile project, helping young hunters learn the hunting heritage.
    Spring turkey are easily obtained, as many can be found around homes, under bird feeders and close to buildings after hard winters of scrounging for food. The mentoring program aims to educate the young hunters on camo, calling, decoy deployment, turkey habits and hunting procedures.
    Ryan bagged a 20 1/2-pound turkey on April 28. The bird came off the roost at 6 a.m. and responded to calling for several hours. It came into the decoys at 10:40 a.m. and was harvested shortly thereafter. The turkey was his first ever harvested game.
    Ryan is the son of Rod and Kelli Dood of Iron River. Following the hunt, he said, “Best day ever, dad. What can we hunt next?”