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Thursday, May 17, 2012

10-year-old twins shoot four turkeys in first hunts

Turkey hunting seems to come naturally to Caden and Jaxon Edwards, 10-year-old twins from Duluth. In their first year of turkey hunting, they’ve already taken four adult gobblers between them, two in Wisconsin and another pair in Minnesota.
Their two Minnesota birds, taken near Rushford, Minn., on April 18 and 19, were big toms. Caden’s weighed 25 pounds and Jaxon’s 25½ pounds. Both birds had 11½-inch beards.
The boys, sons of Dennis and Merissa Edwards who live on Island Lake, took a break from bow hunting practice in the yard to share their stories on Tuesday afternoon.
Their Wisconsin hunt was on their grandparents’ land —Merissa’s parents —near Balsam Lake, Wis., during the Wisconsin youth turkey hunt April 7-8. Caden’s bird came the first day, and he happened to be hunting in the same spot where Merissa had shot her first turkey in 2001. Technically, both boys were with her during that hunt.
“I was in her belly,” Caden explained.
Merissa had been seven months pregnant with the boys.
Caden was hunting with his dad this time. With Dennis calling, they worked a gobbler for three hours and changed locations once before Caden shot the bird at 16 yards. Caden talked about what it’s like to watch a gobbler “spitting and drumming” in close quarters.
“It’s really exciting,” he said. “Normally, they’re small, but they get real big and the sun shines on all their feathers. It’s kind of hard to describe.”
The next afternoon, Jaxon and his dad heard a turkey gobbling and set up in some hardwoods along a cornfield. Dennis could see the bird coming in clearly, but Jaxon couldn’t see it over a downed tree. After the bird ducked under a tree, Jaxon fired once with his 20-gauge pump, but he thinks he may have shot low. As the bird tried to run away, he shot it again.
“He dropped down and started flopping, and I knew I had shot my first turkey,” Jaxon said.
Although this is the first year that Caden and Jaxon have carried guns while hunting turkeys, they’ve spent lots of time in the blind or in the woods, hunting with Dennis or Merissa. And they’ve watched lots of turkey hunts on outdoor television shows.
“They’ve been going with us since they were 2,” Dennis said. “I think part of their success has a lot to do with how many times they’ve gone before. They’re addicted to hunting and fishing shows. When other kids wanted to watch “Barney,” they wanted to watch Michael Waddell, one of the Realtree guys.”
In their Minnesota hunt, on land owned by a farmer friend near Rushford, Caden got his bird the first day of the season, April 18. It was an afternoon bird. He and Dennis heard a bird gobble, but it was across a valley, so they repositioned themselves closer to the bird. Caden had just a small window of an opening, and when the big tom stepped into it —just 6 yards away —it went down with one shot from Caden’s 20-gauge.
“I was pretty nervous knowing he was right there,” he said. “He was pretty much within spitting distance.”
Jaxon got his Minnesota bird the next morning, when, as Caden said, “Every turkey in the world was gobbling.” With Dennis working the pot call, they heard the bird first at 70 yards, then 35. Meanwhile, a jake, or young male turkey, was gobbling just 15 yards from the blind. Finally, the tom came within shotgun range, and Jaxon took the 25½-pounder with a single shot.
“They’re making it look too easy,” said Merissa, who has taken three turkeys over the years.
After Jaxon shot his bird, Dennis took some photos. Then Dennis took his turn at hunting in the same spot where Jaxon had hunted. With dad and both boys calling, they had two gobblers responding. Dennis shot one of them 20 minutes after Jaxon had taken his.
There’s a name for that spot now.
“Turkey Slayer Point,” Jaxon said.
And they’re not through yet. The family is hunting again this weekend at Merissa’s parents’ home in Wisconsin. Hunters in Wisconsin can take additional turkeys if they buy extra tags.
The boys are hoping to catch up with their mom this weekend.

By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune 

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