June 03, 2011
The Winner of the Generation Wild Turkey Hunt Contest and His Prize Hunt
By Torin Miller
The essays were received, the votes were tallied and 18-year-old Torin Miller of State College, PA was declared the winner of the Generation Wild Turkey Hunt Contest. His prize was a spring turkey hunt at the Tamarack Preserve in Millbrook, NY with Field & Stream’s Video Editor, Mike Shea and guide Shane Odell. Check out the video of his hunt and Torin’s own thoughts on his experience.
By Torin Miller
Nothing says “Welcome to Upstate New York” like a mural of walleye and smallmouth bass. That’s exactly what greeted me at the gate of Albany International Airport. In the morning, I would be hunting eastern wild turkeys at Tamarack Preserve in Millbrook, N.Y. My excitement level couldn’t have been higher.
The alarm buzzed early in our motel room--3:30 a.m. early. It didn’t take me long to get into my gear, and I met Field & Stream’s Video Editor Mike Shea in the empty motel parking lot and we headed off to Tamarack.
We pulled into the Preserve’s parking lot and headed inside to meet our guide for the day, Shane Odell. Shane was much younger than I was expecting, but he sure knew his stuff. As he was roosting birds the night before, he was mock-charged by a black bear sow. He just laughed it off and then told us we were headed to that same spot for the morning hunt.
All the scouting Shane did paid off, and we were right under a roosted Tom. He gobbled his head off all morning.
“I’m not gonna call to him,” Shane says. “If he knows where we are, he will stay up in that tree all morning.”
Eventually the bird flew down and got quiet. About 10 minutes later, he gobbled right over a little hill. His head popped up, and he saw our decoys. He didn’t like something about the set and disappeared over the hill. He strutted and gobbled his way back up the ridge, but never presented a shot.
After he cleared off, Shane, Mike and I worked our way around the bottom of the ridge the bird had traveled. We kept a rocky ledge between the bird and us and located him a couple of times, but needed to get closer. We progressed the whole way around the base of the ridge and up a saddle to the top when we lost track of the Tom.
Shane made the decision to head back down the ridge to attempt to relocate the bird. Mike and I followed slowly behind. Shane stopped and let out a super-realistic owl call. Our Tom instantly answered, and so did another bird. That other bird was more vocal, so we decided to set up on him. We headed down the ridge and got in position. Shane made some yelps and the bird gobbled again. He was getting closer.
Not five minutes after we set up, two Jakes topped the little knoll in front of us. They worked their way in to about 15 yards and I took my shot at the lead bird. He wasn’t the biggest bird in the woods, but he and his partner ruled them. Shane explained that they probably were ganging up on the big Tom we had seen in the morning, and that’s why the Tom ran from our Jake decoys.
I had already considered the trip a complete success, and then Shane offered to take us fly-fishing. Mike and I headed into town to pick up my brother, Trey, who had flown to New York with me. We ate an awesome breakfast at a little upstate diner and headed back to the lodge. The fishing was just as good as the turkey hunting. We caught some great trout, and the scenery was amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.