(Adam) well the crew is here. (mike) crew is here. (adam) we are getting bigger and bigger every year. (mike) I know.
(MIke) “Well hello, hi Dakota!” (dakota off cam) hi.
It was late last year, when we first met 17 year old Dakota Slaid.
(MIke Pritchett, Kings Camo) “We were so excited to see how well you did in your hunters safety class we thought we’d better surprise you a little early for Christmas. Surprise you with a couple of things we’ve got for you. (dakota) Ok.”
Each year for the past decade the Pritchett brothers have opened up their hearts to a young man or woman right before Christmas. They rally support from sportsmen and local businesses around their cause of introducing these kids to the outdoors. I’ve been fortunate to tag along on over a dozen such adventures and every year it’s my favorite story to share. Tonight with the help of Sportsman’s Warehouse, Kings Camo, SFW, the Smiley, the Donahue and Phillips families, were keeping the tradition alive.
(Mike) I’ve got a card here from all of us.
(Dakota reading) “Dakota we would like to wish you a merry christmas and inform you that you are going on a fully guided spring turkey hunt and fishing trip.”
(Mike) what do you think of that man? (cheers) (mom) do you know what that means? (mom) that means you get to go hunting and fishing with these men. (mike) what do you think of that? (dakota is overwhelmed)
(Ryan Foutz, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife) “Let me tell you there is nobody no generous than Kevin and Mike Pritchett. I’m actually proud to call them my friend and proud to be a part of an organization that cares about people.”
(Mike) we brought you some things you might need to go turkey hunting. What is the #1 thing you need to go turkey hunting.
SFW gave Dakota a brand new shotgun, Kings Camo outfitted him and his uncle from head to toe
(kevin Donahue) here’s you a fishing pole and reel.
and Kevin Donahue gave him a all the fishing gear he’d need for a fishing trip with Strawberry Bay Marina come this summer.
(Mike) and our good friends at Sportsmens Warehouse we are going to go down to the Provo SW and do a little shopping and get you more stuff. What do you think of that?
(Dakota Slaid) this is by far the happiest Christmas (starts to cry)
(Lacey Olsen, Dakota’s Sister) He doesn’t have a lot of men in his life to be an example to him for stuff that guys normally do.
(Lacey) so we are really greatful for you guys.
(mike) lets go in they are waiting for us. Come on in buddy.
Dakota’s family has dealt with a lot of adversity. You see, he lost his oldest sister in a fire, that also badly burned his two other sisters. This young man grew up without a father and was born with other ailments as well.
(Dora “kitt” Slaid, Dakota’s Mother) Dakota is autistic. He has Von Willebrand’s bleeding disease. His blood does not clot it’s a form of hemophilia.
(Dora) and he has a growth disorder. We have done all the doctors, all the tests and they still don’t know what is going to happen with Dakota.
(Dora) We just take each day that we are given from him. We make the best of it, this here is going to be the best memory we’ll ever have for him.
Sportsman’s Warehouse finished getting Dakota ready for his hunt. Boots, gloves, vest, a choke for his gun and if he’s going to hunt turkeys, he’s going to need to learn to sound like a turkey.
(Kevan) if you were writing, you just kind of draw a little comma.
(Kevan Talbot C.F.O Sportsman’s Warehouse) We are passionate it about it and the more people we can get involved with it, particularly those that perhaps can’t do it on their own. It’s a chance for us to help out and we are more than happy to do so.
(Kevin Donahue, Donahue’s Welding) They say it touches their hearts, but I think it touches our hearts just as much.
(Dora) This is the best Christmas he’ll ever have, because this is his dream.
(Adam) boy Dakota is in for a fun time. (tonya) we are going to have a fun time with him out in the blind. I think he’s geared up, ready to go. We’ve got all the right ducks in a row. (adam) ok, turkeys…turkeys. (tonya) turkeys in a row. (adam) we’ll have dakota’s hunt, turkey hunt coming up here in just a moment, but first tonights quiz question.
(Adam) how did you sleep last night? (dakota) I slept good. (adam) did you? Weren’t excited at all? (dakota) I am excited. (laughs)
Dakota’s hunt is finally here. Bill Miller heard Dakota’s story and wanted to help. He has invited the whole crew to come and stay in his families cabin.
(Bill Miller, Helping out on hunt) we’ll be hunting on the Childs ranch, is where we’ll be hunting today. There’s a lot of birds here.
(Mike Pritchett, SFW Turkey Specialist) “We are going to head right here, just over here about 1000 yards, there’s a ridge, just off in the bottom of it we’ve got a big drainage full of big cottonwoods, they are roosted in it, so we are just up on the ridgeline in a saddle. We’ve got the blinds set up. We are hoping the birds will pitch down and then just work their way up to us in the saddle where they want to strut and carry on. If all goes well, we should do good.
(Dakota) this is the greatest thing ever!
In the pre-dawn light, Mike sets our decoys and everyone scatters into blinds overlooking a meadow, littered with turkey sign. Now we just wait for the turkeys to leave their roost and move our way.
(Mike in truck, COVER AS MUCH OF THE BITE AS POSSIBLE!) it’s just ultimate prime turkey habitat, you’ve got these open agriculture meadows combined with all this oak and good cover. There is all this good riparian spring areas in here that are great areas for hens to nest and stuff.
(mike) it’s just exactly what these turkeys want and need.
Right off the bat we have this big tom checking out our decoys.
(Mike) Get ready, get your head down on the gun.
This bird is exactly what we are looking for. But for some reason, he surveys the scene and takes off across to the other side of the field.
(mike) nice big tom skirted us way out to the right. And then the hens come in.
Five hens are right in front of us, checking out our decoys and feeding. It looks like a perfect situation. But no matter how hard Mike and Kevin try.
We just can’t seem to bring the tom to us. In the end we loose and the hens run to the strutting tom on the other side of the field.
But not five minutes later, off to our left, four jakes come right to the decoys.
(mike calls with jakes in view and other tom responds)
(Mike) they are not big enough buddy. Just little jakes.
But right behind them, is a tom with a huge 8 to 9 inch beard.
(Mike) this one? (mike) yeah that one, wait until he pulls his head up. Oh he ain’t got no tail feathers.
Tail feathers or not, Dakota wants to shoot this big bird.
(Mike) (mike) just squeeze the trigger. (calling) (mike) right there! As soon as he lifts it up. (CALLING) (mike) right there! (shot) (mike) that’s fine. (turkeys call) (kevin calls) (turkeys respond and Mike laughs)
(Tag) well that was a pretty exciting morning already. Already got a shot! (mike) just barely missed him Dakota. (dakota) yeah. (adam) that was a neat bird, no tail feathers. (mike) he’s either got in a big old fight or got attacked by something. He had a big ol’ beard. (adam) well there is a lot of birds in the area. We are not giving up just yet. We’ll have more from the turkey fields in just a moment, but first back to the guys at Fish Tech for tonights fishing report.
(Greg Ferran, Dakota’s Uncle) how cool was that to watch? (uncle) it was amazing. (adam) have you ever seen that many turkeys? (uncle) not all at once no. It was the first turkey hunt that I’ve been on.
To say we had birds all around us is an understatement. We had jakes and toms strutting everywhere we looked.
(Kevin Pritchett, King Camo) we had them coming from all directions. Some would leave and we’d call them back and then finally got the big one to come in.
That’s right, that same big tom that wouldn’t come to our calls earlier in the morning had finally had enough. He enters the field strutts his stuff and is going to show that he is the king of the meadow.
(Mike) here he comes…come on!
(Adam) got to come clear across the road. (mike) yeah, let him get clear across the road bud.
(mike) hold still buddy, don’t move.
Dakota is as nervous as these jakes are as the tom enters the fray.
(mike) just relax, take a breathe and let him get up here.
(Mike) just let it come, ok keep it on him, as soon as he pulls his head up you shoot him ok? As soon as he pulls his head up you shoot him.
the big tom is really getting after the other jakes in the area. Finally he sees our strutting decoy and tries to pick a fight.
(mike) ok as soon as he lifts his head up. (nats calling) shoot him buddy. Shoot him Dakota!
No second shot is needed, Dakota has done it.
(Mike laughs) I think he got one. (laughs)
(Kevin Pritchett) he did good, it’s a neat experience for Dakota, you know his grandpa was going to take him hunting. His grandpa promised he would and his grandpa passed away before that opportunity and his mother told us about that experience and we wanted to fill in.
Dakota really wanted his grandfather Gilbert along on his hunt. So he had a special picture in his pocket to remind him of his grandfather.
(Dakota) If I didn’t have a picture of him, it wouldn’t be the same. (adam) what do you think he would say today if he were here? (dakota) he’d probably say you done good today boy. You done good.
(John Child) Good job buddy. (dakota) yeah thank you. (john) Oh, you are welcome.
John Child owns the property that Dakota got his bird on. John says has a special place in his heart for kids like Dakota. You see, John used to drive a school bus for disabled kids.
(John Childs, Property Owner) (john chokes up) that’s what it’s all about. I’ve done my hunting and I really don’t care to do it anymore. I still love the turkeys, that’s why we take care of them. And I just, enjoy other people.
(Tag) wow that was awesome. (mike) we’ve been in turkeys all morning. (adam) you and i were talking about that, we’ve never had an experience like that. (mike) never like that. We’ve never been around that many turkeys in all the years we’ve done this with these guys. Dakota did awesome, lot of opportunity, got him a nice bird. Got it done. (adam) that’s awesome, hey we’ve got some more hunters here in the field, so we are going to duck out of their way, run back and get some breakfast and let you watch tonights Utah Field Guide.