The only thing better than hunting for yourself is hunting with your kids. When they successfully kill an animal and are excited about eating it, it makes you feel like you’re teaching them right.
Kevin Shepheard was feeling that way when his nine-year-old daughter, Grace, killed her first tom last month as reported by the York Daily Record. Grace is an average third-grader, and she’s one of 969,000 other people in Pennsylvania who buy a hunting license. But she stands out as one who has killed a mature tom when most hunters struggle to get it done.
Not only was this Grace’s first turkey harvest, but her dad, Kevin, only started hunting three years ago himself. He’s one of many “adult-onset hunters” discovering the joy of hunting at a later age, and he’s doing his best to keep his family involved with him.
He described the fun of hunting with his daughter, “We just enjoy spending time in the woods together. We get to hang out together and see all of the different animals, and we get to talk while we’re out there. Then, we get breakfast and talk about what we saw. It’s just a really nice experience to have with your kid.”
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Shepheard also feels his daughter is learning skills for a lifetime. “I think it definitely teaches patience. It’s hard enough to be an adult out there in the cold,” he said. “It’s rewarding as a father to see her out there, and she’s sitting still, she’s observing everything around her, and she isn’t complaining about anything. That focus and drive is really cool to see.”
It’s encouraging to hear Grace’s reaction, too, “I love spending time with my dad and paying attention to what’s going on and listening to all the sounds. I really like it.”
A fun component for Kevin is that Grace has the first bragging rights for a tom. He said, “After a few years, I’m still learning, and I’m learning with my daughter, which is really cool. As of right now, she’s the only one in the family that has shot a turkey, and she makes sure to remind me of that every once in a while.”
Tom’s are graded by the length of their beards and spurs. Grace’s tom had a 9.5″ beard and 1.25″ spurs, which are both pretty long. Turkey’s don’t live more than a few years, so hers represents a mature male. Turkey beards are a tuft of hair-like feathers that grow from the center of the breast. Male turkeys grow a spur, a sharp pyramidal spike, on the back of their lower leg which they use to fight with eachother and to fend off predators. The bigger the beard and spur, the older the tom.
From the pictures, it looks like Grace used a Mossberg 500 in 20 gauge. Mossberg’s Super Bantam stock comes with stackable stock extensions to grow with the shooter. Pair that with Kent’s TK7 tungsten loads and you’d have a deadly combination.
Congratulations to Grace on her first tom, and congrats to Kevin for doing his part to share the joy of hunting with the next generation. Have you had a great experience hunting with youth? Any advice for those taking kids for the first time? Please tell us about it in the comments.