When Dale Penney took his son Dylan turkey-hunting on Saturday’s Youth Turkey Day, the result was far better than he had hoped.
Yes, the 13-year-old Pittsfield youth got his bird. Yes, the turkey was a big one. And yes, the final moments of the hunt were more thrilling than either could have hoped for.
But the best part of this turkey tale comes after the fact … and you’ll have to wait to hear it.
Let’s start with the basics. Dale Penney, a Registered Maine Guide, was thrilled when his sons – Seth is 16 – decided they’d like to apply for a turkey permit this year.
The Penneys are a hunting and fishing family, after all.
“They’re avid, I’ll say that,” Dale Penney said. “They know when the fish are gonna bite.”
On Saturday, the Penneys put their outdoor know-how to work, as Dylan patiently convinced a turkey to approach.
“He called [the turkey] for an hour,” Dale Penney said. “The only bad thing was we didn’t have a video camera.”
The camera would have come in handy at the end of Dylan’s successful hunt, as an hour of fruitless calling finally paid off.
“[The turkey] ran the last 100 yards on a dead sprint right at our jake decoy,” Dale Penney said.
Dylan shouldered his 12-gauge Browning shotgun, fired a shot, and dropped his bird.
Upon inspection, the bird was worth the extra effort: It weighed 21 pounds, 14 ounces, and sported an 83/4-inch beard.
If the story ended there, you still may have read about it in this space. A boy’s first turkey, after all, is special.
But the story doesn’t end there. And Dylan’s actions after the hunt are much more impressive than anything he did to coax the bird within shotgun range.
“He asked me if he could go to Dunkin’ Donuts, and I said we could go there before we tagged the bird,” said Dale Penney, who figured the hungry 13-year-old deserved a treat after the hunt.
But that’s not what Dylan had in mind. Dylan didn’t want a donut. He wanted a dozen.
And he wasn’t even hungry.
Dylan just wanted to take a gift to the family who had allowed him and his father to hunt on their farmland.
“This happened without me saying a thing to him,” Dale Penney said. “And the woman said it meant a lot to her. They let a lot of people hunt on their land, and not many people come by to say thanks.”
State officials and veteran hunters talk about landowner relations all year long. They advise hunters to ask for permission and to show their gratitude after the fact.
In Pittsfield, there’s a 13-year-old hunter who already has begun learning some of the sport’s most valuable lessons … and putting them to good use.
If you know Dylan Penney, congratulations are certainly in order this morning.
And as you can see, the fact he bagged a bruiser of a turkey may be the least of his recent hunting accomplishments.
Purple turkey camouflage?
Turkey hunters generally are pretty particular about their wardrobe selection at this time of year, as they try to blend in with the colors of the forest.
But not all turkey hunters are willing to abandon their fashion sense when they head into the woods.
Camouflage? Not on your life.
That’s what I found out Monday during a phone call with my brother-in-law, Carl Urquhart.
According to Urquhart, both of his children had expressed an interest in turkey hunting this spring, and my niece, 10-year-old Alyssa, was the recent beneficiary of the state’s decision to grant permits to all who had applied.
After her older brother, Ryan, spent a couple of hours in their backyard blind Saturday, it was Alyssa’s turn to join her dad and try to call in a turkey.
As Alyssa trudged downstairs and scrubbed the sleep from her eyes, however, her father must have chuckled a bit.
Alyssa – quite a young fashion plate most of the time – had reached into her closet and pulled out a nifty pair of purple pants and an equally snappy purple shirt.
“She said, ‘Do I match?'” Carl Urquhart recounted Monday night.
“I told her, ‘I don’t think the turkeys will care if you match,'” he said.
And since the Urquhart clan hunts from the dark confines of a ground blind, the chance of a turkey spotting her spiffy ensemble was slim … and the birds did, in fact, show up about 10 minutes after the duo settled in.
John Holyoke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 990-8214 or 1-800-310-8600.