Hunting News

Young Hunters Find Success at the 2023 NWTF Camp Crook Youth Hunt

EDGEFIELD, S.C. — Over the first weekend in May, the NWTF South Dakota and Montana state chapters held their annual NWTF Camp Crook Youth Turkey Hunt.

The event welcomed four young hunters, ages 12 to 17, who had completed their hunter safety course but had never hunted turkey before. The annual youth hunt has occurred for the last eight years and has become a highly anticipated event for the community, which is enthusiastic to aid in its organization.

Located approximately 1 mile inside the western border of South Dakota, Camp Crook serves as a meeting point for ranching families from both South Dakota and Montana. The youth hunt was carried out on both public and private lands, as several landowners in the vicinity generously allowed the use of their property for the hunt.

The activities for the NWTF Camp Crook Youth Turkey Hunt began on May 5, with the kids arriving in the afternoon for a safety briefing, as well as a presentation on turkey biology, behavior and hunting techniques. Afterward, the young hunters were paired with their guide and embarked on their late afternoon hunt and to roost birds for the following morning.

The following day, the young hunters went on their first morning turkey hunt accompanied by their guides. After returning to camp, the local 4H youth shooting program organized a lunch for the kids, their parents and the guides. “We are very grateful for the 4H support, which involves helping to sign up and select the youth hunters and putting together the lunchtime meal and a breakfast bag for everyone,” NWTF District Biologist Collin Smith said.

In a notable achievement, all four of the young hunters were able to harvest an adult tom during this year’s hunt. The hunt usually averages a 90 – 100% success rate. While bagging a tom is not the main goal, the successful harvest certainly plays a role in igniting the enthusiasm of these young hunters for the thrilling pursuit of spring turkey hunting.

The annual NWTF Camp Crook Youth Hunt owes its success to the support and contributions of numerous donors and supporters who make this event a great experience for the youth. Each year, retired USDA Forest Service member Bobby Cordell plays a critical role as hunt coordinator, ensuring the smooth execution of the event.

“We’d like to thank all the donors that contribute to the success of this hunter recruitment event, including the guides, the local 4H shooting sports program, landowners, scouters, and of course the parents that wake up at 3:00 am in the morning to accompany their young hunters in the field,” Smith said. “We’d especially like to thank Bobby Cordell for his role. Without his help over the years we’d be unable to share this experience with these kids.”

2023 Guides
Randy Gaskins – NWTF
Collin Smith – NWTF
Dale Tribby – retired BLM
Rob & Justin Lyons – local residents
Tony Tabisz – Crow Peak Longbeards Chapter NWTF

Chancey Odell – USFS
Justin Lyons – Local resident
4H Planner & Coordinator
Laurie Elmore

Supporting Partners
U.S. Forest Service
4H Shooting Sports

Private Land Owners
Ronda Cordell – Cordell Ranch
Bryce and Dawn Padden – Padden Ranch
Kent Williams Ranch
Jack and Kay Ovitz
Dean and Maxine Rasmussen
Terry and Laurie Goehring
Bonnie Hart – Hart Ranch

Lodging Donations
Hart Ranch
Matt Gilbert

About the National Wild Turkey Federation
Since 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation has invested over half a billion dollars into wildlife conservation and has conserved or enhanced over 22 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. The organization continues to drive wildlife conservation, forest resiliency and robust recreational opportunities throughout the U.S. by working across boundaries on a landscape scale.

2023 is the NWTF’s 50 th anniversary and an opportunity to propel the organization’s mission into the future while honoring its rich history. For its 50 th anniversary, the NWTF has set six ambitious goals: positively impact 1 million acres of wildlife habitat; raise $500,000 for wild turkey research; increase membership to 250,000 members; dedicate $1 million to education and outreach programs; raise $5 million to invest in technology and NWTF’s people; and raise $5 million to build toward a $50 million endowment for the future.  Learn how you can help us reach these lofty goals.

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