By Amber Cress
Owen Teijeira of Holland turned 12 years old on April 3. This was a much-anticipated birthday because he was now a youth hunter. As Owen put it, “my life has changed forever!”
Owen has spent most of his young life hunting and fishing with his father and family. From the age of 5, he started tagging along with his father to hunting and fishing tournaments. Some of his first fishing tournaments were at age 7 in local walleye contests. Owen has since fished in dozens of walleye tournaments and all the competitors know him.
His father, Aaron Teijeira, has instilled in him the value of outdoor hunting and fishing participation for young people because he believes it is important for the future of the sport. “Conservation is key to the future of the outdoors,” Teijeira says, noting outdoor activities are great family time.
Owen is a triplet. His two sisters, Lily and Grace, participated in the youth turkey hunt this year. Older brother Noah also has hunted and fished with his family for most of his life.
Owen has looked forward to the day he could fully participate in hunting, although the preparation began long before the weekend finally arrived.
His mentor was Uncle Steve “Kaz” Kaczmarek of Attica, while Lily’s mentor was her father, Aaron, and Grace’s mentor was a close family friend. After a 4 a.m. wake-up on the Saturday of the youth hunt, the crew got geared up and went to their designated spots.
For Owen, Kaczmarek put up a ground blind earlier in the week because it was scheduled to rain on Saturday. They wanted to be prepared when they reached their spot. Good thing because it poured the entire time they were out there and they had no action. However, they knew the turkeys were there.
Owen wanted to get out of the blind in the rain and run and gun for turkey, but Kaczmarek said, “I don’t want to educate them. They are not talking today so let’s run and gun for them on Sunday morning.”
On Easter Sunday morning, Owen and Kaczmarek arrived at their spot, and Kaczmarek told Owen they were not sitting in a blind today. They were going to run and gun it. Owen was thrilled.
It was a quiet morning with a light fog and sounds of a partridge drumming in the background. It was a perfect morning.
The moment came shortly after the sun came up. Owen got his Easter present: a mature 23-pound, 10-inch bearded beauty of a turkey.
Kaczmarek called the bird for about 45 minutes to bring him in to about 35 yards away to where Owen was able to see and witness the turkey displaying itself by gobbling and strutting. That is when he took his shot, creating a memory he will have for the rest of his life. Owen was shaking so badly that he thought he would never connect on the shot. After pulling the trigger, he looked at his uncle and said, “Did I get it?” Kaczmarek said. “Heck yeah. Go get your bird.”
Owen had his first gobbler under his belt.
Kaczmarek started sending pictures to the family of Owen with his prize. Owen's dad was so proud that he cried.
Upon arriving home with his turkey, Owen said, “This was my best day ever!”
His Easter prize now resides at Buck Hanging Studios in Akron, a local taxidermist. The family now looks forward to the girls getting their turkey prizes in May.
What a great weekend that provided everlasting memories for the whole family. They look forward to hunting and fishing as a family for many years to come.