Young hunters find success in the 2023 NWTF Camp Crook Youth Hunt

EDGEFIELD, SC — During the first weekend in May, NWTF state chapters in South Dakota and Montana held their annual NWTF Camp Crook Youth Turkey Hunt.

The event welcomed four young hunters, ages 12-17, who had completed their hunter safety course but had never hunted turkey before. The annual Youth Hunt has been running for the past eight years and has become a highly anticipated event for the community, who are excited to help organize it.

Located approximately 1 mile inside the western border of South Dakota, Camp Crook serves as a gathering point for ranching families from South Dakota and Montana. The youth hunt took place on both public and private land, as several nearby ranchers generously allowed the use of their property for the hunt.

The NWTF Camp Crook Youth Turkey Hunt activities began on May 5, with the children arriving in the afternoon for a safety briefing as well as a presentation on turkey biology, behavior and hunting techniques. The young hunters were then paired up with their guide and set out on their late afternoon hunt and to ground birds for the following morning.

The next day, the young hunters went on their first morning turkey hunt accompanied by their guides. After returning to the camp, the local 4H youth shooting program organized a lunch for the boys, their parents and the guides. “We are very grateful for the support of 4H, which involves helping to register and select the young hunters and preparing lunch food and a breakfast bag for everyone,” said NWTF district biologist Collin Smith.

In a remarkable achievement, the four young hunters were able to harvest an adult male during this year’s hunt. Hunting typically has a 90-100% success rate. While bagging a tom isn’t the primary goal, successful harvesting certainly plays a part in igniting these young hunters’ enthusiasm for the exciting pursuit of spring turkey hunting.

The annual NWTF Camp Crook Youth Hunt owes its success to the support and contributions of numerous donors and supporters who make this event a great experience for young people. Each year, retired USDA Forest Service member Bobby Cordell plays a key role as the hunt coordinator, ensuring the smooth running of the event.

“We would like to thank all the donors who contribute to the success of this hunter recruiting event, including the guides, the local 4H shooting sports program, the landowners, the scouts, and of course the parents who wake up at 3:00 am in the morning to escort their young hunters into the field,” Smith said. “We would like to especially thank Bobby Cordell for playing him. Without his help over the years, we would not be able to share this experience with these children.”

Guides 2023
Randy Gaskins–NWTF
Collin Smith–NWTF
Dale Tribby – Retired BLM
Rob and Justin Lyons – local residents
Tony Tabisz – Crow Peak Longbeards NWTF Chapter

Chancey Odell–USFS
Justin Lyons – Local Resident
4H planner and coordinator
laurie elmore

support partners
US Forest Service
Shooting Sports 4H

Private land owners
Cordell Round – Cordell Ranch
Bryce and Dawn Padden – Padden Ranch
Kent Williams Ranch
Jack and Kay Ovitz
Dean and Maxine Rasmussen
Terry and Laurie Goehring
Bonnie Hart – Hart Ranch

accommodation donations
hart ranch
matthew gilbert

About the National Wild Turkey Federation
Since 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation has invested more than half a billion dollars in wildlife conservation and has conserved or improved more than 22 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. The organization continues to advance wildlife conservation, forest resiliency, and robust recreational opportunities across the US by working beyond borders at the landscape scale.

2023 is the 50th anniversary of the NWTF and an opportunity to push the organization’s mission into the future while honoring its rich history. For its 50th anniversary, the NWTF has set itself six ambitious goals: to positively impact 1 million acres of wildlife habitat; raise $500,000 for wild turkey research; increase membership to 250,000 members; dedicate $1 million to education and outreach programs; raise $5 million to invest in technology and the people of NWTF; and raise $5 million to build a $50 million endowment for the future. Learn how you can help us achieve these lofty goals.