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Young turkey hunters have seasoned tales

Spring wild turkey season ended at noon on Thursday, and many hunters came home recounting fewer birds heard and seen. Not so for the Brautlacht family. Members saw good numbers and had nice harvests early in the season.

Kalei Brautlacht, 14, of Colden, writes, "My family has been very lucky this turkey season."

Her grandmother, Linda Kotlarsz, got her very first bird, a 14-pound jake on the first weekend of the spring season. Along with her jake, three others came in to the call.

Calling duties went to dad, Jim Brautlacht. He mainly uses mouth calls and keeps the sound level low and deceptive for wary birds. It worked on May 11. Jim took an 18-pound tom that day and a jake later in the season.

Kalei went one up (in pounds) on dad Mother's Day with a 19-pound gobbler that sported a 10.5-inch beard. Like her grandmother's take, Kalei only had to wait until about 6 a.m. before the bird saw a jake decoy, heard dad's calling and came into range.

Mother's Day was a good one for Zack Frey, 12, of Clarence Center. Earlier in the season, Zack, hunting with dad Steve Frey, had close calls but nothing came into range.

A long hen checked out their decoys at 6:30 a.m. and a half hour later distant gobbles and some calling with a Quaker Boy box call drew in three jakes. Zack used his 20-gauge Mossberg Bantam to drop the biggest bird. Dad writes, "(It) made me one happy dad on Mother's Day."

Zack now looks forward to the opening of September goose season.

For this harried hunter the season ended with supermarket turkeys in the freezer. Quality time spent out back and with expert hunters during New York State Outdoor Writers Association and Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers added to the enjoyment, with a few insights gained.

While turkey numbers may be down slightly, the aura of sunrises, birds heard and seen at a distance and prospects for future hunts make it a major draw.

Things learned: Loud calling is for outdoor shows, quiet often draws more than calling, keep the gun pointed where birds will likely appear, be in the field well before sunrise and wait until next season.