As part two of our turkey hunting series, we introduce you to 19-year-old Rhys Homan.
(Don Homan, Rhys’s dad) He has what they call Global Develop Mental Delay.
(Don Homan) When he was little we vividly remember when he counted to ten. We never thought he’d be able to do that and he’s come a long, long ways.
(mike) open that card, it’s a card for you and a gift in there to.
(Janice Homan, Rhys’s mom) it says Dear Ryse, we wanted to inform you that you are going on a fully guided turkey hunt this spring and on a fishing trip this summer.
(Janice Homan) it’s just not something you get a chance to do all the time and it’s kind of like we never win anything and it’s like Rhys got a jackpot this year. That’s pretty cool.
(Kevin Pritchett) better see what’s in that.
(family) oh…(mike) what do you think of that? That’s your very own. (rhys) thank you. (mike) you’re welcome, that’s from all of us.
(Janice Homan) I didn’t know there was a program like that and completely shocked. Kind of like are you kidding, they do that.
(Mike) But you probably are going to need some other stuff to go turkey hunting to. Like some camo? I just happen to know a guy who owns a camo company. Guess who that is? My brother.
(Tonya) Let me check your shirt, see what it says.
The next surprise the guys had for Rhse was taking them to Kings Camo where they were outfitted for the upcoming hunt.
(Kevin Pritchett, Owner Kings Camo) I keep doing it because I enjoyed hunting and I’m in a point in my life where I can, through my business and stuff have done well and I can give back. No greater thing to give back than with something you enjoy doing and share it with others
(Janice) this is awesome. It brings back memories. Rhys reminded me that he always wanted camo as a kid and it’s true. He never dressed in anything but camo, that’s all he would come home with.
Then it was on to Sportsman’s Warehouse where the boys were given boots, turkey calls, targets, and some shells.
(Kim Swank, Orem Sportsman’s Warehouse) I know this is probably the second or third year that we’ve done this and it’s just always nice to have the families come in and see the smiles on their faces.
It has been a long four month wait for Rhys, he had to fulfill his hunters education requirement and practice shooting his gun. But finally his April spring hunt is on.
(Mike) Well we are headed up here up to the top of this canyon to some private property where we’ve got some permission by some landowners to let us on to take these kids out and see if we can get them a turkey.
(Adam) are you excited Rhys? (rhys) yeah. (adam) me to. Let’s go do this, let’s go roll a bird as mike likes to say.
For two days Mike hiked Rhys and his father Don around Wallsburg, but could never seal the deal. But the kid was starting to open up, he was starting to trust his new found friends.
(Don) He likes to make friends, he likes to talk. With his age and his condition and such, not everybody is always willing to shoot the breeze with him. But people like Mike, Kevin and yourself, he’s right at home. You guys make him feel at home and that’s an awesome thing.
(Adam) We actually had two hunts going at once. Kaden was up here in this field where he got his turkey, but Ryse was over in Wallsburg, we just got a call, they didn’t tag out.
(mike) Monday statewide over the counter turkey hunt. (adam) what should people look at and do when they get ready to hunt a turkey this year if they’ve never hunted turkeys before or if they haven’t had success.
(mike) 80% of turkey hunting is scouting and knowing your area, locating the turkeys. The other 10% is calling. Learning the basic calls, slate, box call. Learning the basic hen yelp, purr, cluck. You don’t have to be a real professional, just know when and how to use it. The other part is setting up in full, camo, face mask, gloves.
(Mike) you’re listening for the turkeys to sound off in the morning, that’s when they are the most vocal. As you are out walking, look for sign in the roads, their tracks, droppings. Places under the oak where they’ve scratched for acorns and things, that’s the things that will tell you that you’ve got turkeys in the area.
Mike say’s turkeys are doing well statewide. We’ve had a couple of mild to normal winters and flocks that were struggling are now showing signs of rebounding.
(Mike) there’s a lot of public ground. These turkeys throughout the winter a lot will see them down on private property because they get concentrated on that due to the snow conditions that pushes them to private property, but if you will do your scouting and homework, the majority of these birds will push back into public ground.
They prefer to roost above a moving stream of water. Not all the times, they’ll roost around ponds and stuff, but if you can find moving water and some large cottonwoods, pines, aspens. Find where they are roosting and you’ve got 80% of your work done. (adam) and get above them. (mike) yup, that’s always my rule of thumb, try and set up above them, something in their clock, they don’t want to turn around and come downhill to you.
If you are hunting with kids like we’ve been. A great option is using a ground blind, but make sure you block out any sunlight that may enter your blind.
(mike) them turkeys they’ve got 10 power vision, full color, 360 degrees, they’ve got incredible eyesight. So when you are setting back in there, we’ve even got facemasks and gloves on even in the back there. And keeping that light from penetrating through the screen and reflecting back on you is really important.
So as you are setting up your blind, focus on the sun coming up and black out that side and keep that sun from coming in on you. Because once they get out there, you are making that call from that blind and they are going to look in that blind. Like I say any movement, sun glasses or eye glasses, they’ll catch that and your day will be over.
A lot of people give up after the morning hunt. Mike doesn’t, he has killed more birds between the hours of 10am and 2pm.
(Mike) From 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock in the afternoon these hens have left these toms to go to their nest site and drop an egg. And so she’s basically abondoned them and ditched that tom and so he’s out here in the woods just waiting to hear that hen to go back to roost. Until she starts the incubation. (adam) she’s lonely. (mike) and he’s lonely and you know as well, you’ve been on a lot of hunts with me. You get a bird to answer in that middle part of the afternoon, you’d better be set down and have a gun to your knee and ready to go because they’ll be coming quick.
(Adam) Well hopefully you get out this year, grab a turkey tag if you don’t, you still have until the end of May right. (mike) right over the counter. (adam) to get out and go hunt some of Utah’s great turkey public lands.