Father and daughter’s first turkey hunt a success

It was raining the morning of April 15 when David Tietz woke his
16-year-old daughter Mattie to do some turkey hunting on a farm
south of their home in New Prague.

“It was 4:30 a.m., it was raining, and I asked her if she’d like
to go the next day,” her father said. “But she’s a real trooper and
said, ‘No, let’s do it.’” The family has a tradition of hunting
with Mattie and her older sister tagging along with dad before they
could legally hunt. Both girls have hunted waterfowl and took
antlerless deer last fall. This would be the first time that Mattie
and her father have hunted turkeys.

“We don’t have any boys in the family so my sister and I went
with dad because we love him so much, but we both discovered we
loved hunting too,” Mattie said.

An hour after leaving the warmth of their home, father and
daughter were tucked into a ground blind overlooking a hen decoy
30-yards from their position. In camouflage from head to toe, the
two sat in silence listening to the avian symphony unfolding around
them as the moon waned and the day slowly brightened.

“Hearing all the sounds of nature early in the morning is so
cool,” Mattie said. “There’s nothing like it.” It wasn’t long
before they also heard the gobbling of turkeys off in the distance.
Using a box caller, David softly yelped and clucked to the
turkeys.

A few minutes later, six hens flew within 150 yards of the
Tietz’ blind, followed shortly by six strutting toms. But there was
a problem. ”They were all behind,” Mattie said, Dad, you set up the
blind in the wrong direction!’ I couldn’t get my gun around to take
a shot.”

David had told his daughter that turkey hunting requires a lot
of patience. That’s a tall order for most teenagers.

“It’s hard for me not to talk, so I had to contain myself and
stay still, but it was good advice,” Mattie said. Luckily, several
of the turkeys strayed from the group, more interested in the decoy
than finding breakfast.

“I had my gun ready when they approached, but one of the hens
moved right in front of me,” Mattie said. “She was so close I could
have reached out and touched her.”

The hen eventually moved, closely followed by a large tom. The
New Prague High School sophomore’s mind went blank. “In the
excitement I forgot which turkey to shoot. My dad said, ‘Mattie,
shoot the big guy with the long red beard!’”

The teen sighted her prey, checked beyond the target like she
learned in her Minnesota DNR firearms safety training, and pulled
the trigger.

“Because of the latest movement of the turkeys I wasn’t
positioned quite right so I bumped my nose when the shotgun
recoiled,” Mattie said. “I thought it’s all over, I had missed the
turkey and given myself a bloody nose!” Sheepishly peering out of
the blind she saw the turkey lying motionless on the ground.

“I looked at my dad and he looked at me and we both started
screaming with joy,” she said. The gobbler weighed 23 pounds and
sported a 9 ½ inch beard and 3/4 inch spurs.

The Tietz’ said their successful first time turkey hunt was made
possible by a DNR initiative this year that allowed all youth age
17 and younger by April 14 to purchase a youth turkey license over
the counter from a DNR license vendor.

“The DNR’s offer of teens Mattie’s age being able to simply buy
a turkey license instead of drawing one was great and goes a long
way toward introducing more young people to the outdoors and turkey
hunting in particular,” said David. He also praised the timing of
the event stating more youths are likely to try hunting in
mid-April when temperatures are moderate than when it’s cold and
snow is on the ground.

The event made a lasting impression on Mattie and introduced
another young person to the thrills of turkey hunting.

“She carries around pictures of the turkey like ones of her
family and friends,” David said. “She has a real sense of
accomplishment. When I think of our experience as father and
daughter I get goose bumps. Anytime you can introduce a young
person to the outdoors is awesome.”

Mattie said “When I told all the guys in my grade that I shot a
23-pound turkey, no one believed me until I pulled out the
pictures, then it was, ‘wow.’ No one thinks of me as a hunter, but
I think every kid, even if you are a 16-year-old girl, should try
it.”

And how did the self-proclaimed “girlie girl” celebrate when she
got home? “I guess it was like hens trying to attract toms, I
curled my hair and put on a dress.”

Categories: Rob Drieslein

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