Brett Berry Enjoys Introducing Turkey Hunting to Youth
Editor’s Note: Brett Berry of Bristolville, Ohio, says, “About 10 years ago when I first started helping Zink Calls and Avian-X Decoys, I also became a pro staffer for Mossy Oak. I hunt turkeys in the spring and fall and use my turkey dogs during fall hunting. I try to hunt every day of the week during Ohio’s turkey season. I also hunt West Virginia and Pennsylvania, and I’m hunting in Wyoming in mid-May. I generally hunt about 100 days a year.”
Once I fill my turkey tags, I take family, friends, writers and anyone else who has a tag to fill. I help scout, locate and call turkeys for them to take. I recently guided for the Ohio Division of Wildlife and Natural Resources and the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Partnership Hunt. I have been guiding for that event for the last four years, and it’s a really great event for young people. It is a scholarship hunt for young people in Ohio.
The participants each write an essay on “What Hunting Means to Me” that they send to the NWTF. The NWTF selects 25 or 30 top essays that are given to the Ohio Division of Wildlife. The ones the Division picks are each given a college scholarship for $1,500, and they get to attend the turkey hunt. Those best essays are entered into a national contest, and the winner of the national contest receives a $15,000 scholarship. These young people also receive $250 to $500 scholarships from their local chapters of the NWTF.
The top 10 essayists also got a Mossy Oak package that included Mossy Oak shirts, pants, caps and other Mossy Oak clothing. This year, each participant received a 870 Remington shotgun, Zink Calls gave a friction call, and Avian-X donated one decoy to each youngster. Several other call makers sent calls for us to give to the kids when we hunted.
The guided, 2-day turkey hunt was at Salt Fork State Lodge at the Salt Fork Park and was held on the first Saturday and Sunday of Ohio’s turkey season. Members of the NWTF came in to help guide, I’m the calling guide, and we also have a land guide who has access to private farms. One of the hunter’s parents gets to go along too.
Each hunter has a mentor who goes along with the rest of us to watch the hunt unfold. Last year, the chief of the Ohio Division of Wildlife, Keith Scott Zody, hunted with my hunter, the hunter’s dad, the land guide and me. We usually don’t set up in blinds, but this year we did because the rain was pouring down that morning when we went out. When the weather broke, we got out of our blind and started moving around hunting turkeys.