Instilling the love of hunting

March 21, 2024

On a still April morning, the call of the male Rio Grande gobblers hangs in the cool, crisp air. The loud, poignant vocalization is a clear sign to the hens in the area, and to you, that he is near. Turkey hunting is a favorite among novice and veteran upland hunters and is a great way to share the love of outdoors and enjoy quality time with your son, daughter, or grandchild.

As a seventh generation Texan, and an avid angler and huntsman with a passion for being in the outdoors, Josh Crumpton has a calling to share his knowledge and joy with others.  As the founder of Spoke Hollow Outfitters, Josh is well-versed in guiding hunts, fishing experiences, and bringing people together to appreciate the natural world so that we can all be better stewards. Teaching his own children to hunt and fish is a core belief. In The Rifle and Reel, Josh shares how he’s passing on the love and passion for hunting to the next generation of sportsmen.

“Hunting with my kids is one of my favorite things to do. With the younger ones it may be walking a field for upland birds with BB’ guns or sometimes it’s sitting in a duck blind as a family. One of the highlights this year was with my oldest son, Jordan, who is 16. We have been hunting for turkey on the youth opener for three years and we have been unsuccessful – until this year.

The first year Jordan fidgeted a lot and was not really engaged. We sat in a blind right after fly down and I called for birds. They responded, they moved towards us, and then shutdown. We continued to sit for a little over an hour before he got bored and we went home. Was I disappointed? Yes. Did I want to sit longer? Yes. Did I show any of that to him? No. I asked him if he wanted to go the next day, and he responded, “No,” and I let him know how much I enjoyed our time together and look forward to trying again next year. 

The second year we decided to hunt run and gun style. We hoofed it out of the house before the sun rose on opening day with decoys and calls, dawning camo, and headed up a ridgeline. That morning we had three gobblers closing in on us. He was still fidgety, but more interested than the previous season. The birds came close, within 50 yards, but wouldn’t come out of a dense brush line. We repositioned, talked to them for the whole morning, but couldn’t seal the deal. He made it for three hours that day and we had a blast. I asked him if he wanted to go out the next day and was pleasantly surprised with a “Yes.” The next morning was the same as the first and didn’t result in a bird. I asked but did not get a third hunt out of him that season. 

“Jordan, do you want to turkey hunt on opening day?”
“Yes sir, I think I do.”

But this year was different. “Jordan, do you want to turkey hunt on opening day?” “Yes sir, I think I do.” This time we decided to blind hunt and use decoys. As the sun rose, we heard birds come off the roost. A good friend came along and was calling for us, which allowed me to fully focus on time with my son. As the birds got close, I watch him go from fidgety to focused. If they moved away, he would start shifting in his seat. This dance went on for about an hour and I could see that I was losing him – my son was getting bored with the dance. Just as we were going to call it a day, a bird broke the brush line. It was the first full strut bird my son had seen. I watched his focus shift, he was 100 percent in the moment, he was hooked! 

The bird came in on a string right into the decoys. I could feel my son’s excitement as he positioned and drew down on the bird. His aim was true, and the hunt was a success. Being able to share that moment of joy with him, something that took three years to obtain is stored among my most cherished moments. As he cleaned his turkey I asked, “Jordan, do you want to go hunt another turkey this year?” “Anytime, you want dad – just let me know.”

When it comes to kids and turkey hunting, I have learned the most important things are patience and perseverance. Always invite them, but don’t push if they don’t want to go. Know when to ask and when to be quiet. Be mindful of their needs and let them move at their own pace. If they only want to hunt for an hour, roll with it. If they only want to hunt one day a season, ok. Even if you know you would have a bird with just a little more time, be willing to put their needs first. In the end it will pay off, I promise.” Josh Crumpton, Spoke Hollow Outfitters.

The spring turkey season is off and running and there’s still time to create memories and teach the next generation of hunters the skills they need.

Here are few tips to get started:

Get there early and scout the property –

  • Scouting the land helps you to determine where birds are hanging out and where they’re roosting. Arrive at the property early, before the sun comes up so you can settle in and be ready to listen for turkeys once the sun begins to rise in the east.
  • If you are unable to see the gobblers, pay attention to which directions they move once they’ve left their roosting spot.

Blend in with your surroundings –

  • Breaking up your silhouette with either camouflage, hiding in a ground blind, or using a tree or shrub to blend in is your best bet to not be spotted by these keen-eyed birds.  Turkey’s eyesight is three times greater than a human with 20/20 so if you’re wanting to have a successful spring turkey season, effective concealment is key.
  • If you’re hunting with kids, keeping still might be one of the most challenging aspects. Hunting in a blind allows kids to move around a bit without blowing your cover and allows everyone to stay comfortable and dry.

Bring a variety of calls –

  • Mastering the turkey calls – diaphragms, slates, and box calls – will have you one step closer to bagging a tom. Each call serves a different purpose and slight variations in the calls can make all the difference. One of the most important and effective aspects of using turkey calls is perfecting the rhythm and the cadence whether you’re mimicking soft yelps, clucks, or purrs.
  • Giving a child his or her own turkey call and teaching them how to use it is a great way to instill the love of hunting. Practice using the calls when you’re away from the turkey’s roosting spot so that you don’t spook the birds that you plan to hunt.

Keep it fun –

  • The best way to fuel the hunting fire in your son or daughter is to have fun with them, turn the hunt into an adventure and keep it engaging.