Jaywalking: Youth-Day triple whammy

  • Alazay Bauch (left), Mercedes Morales (center) and Damian Willor (right) pose with their turkeys Saturday morning during the Massachusetts Young Adult Turkey Hunting Day. Contributed photo

Monday, April 24, 2017

Monday marked the opening day for Turkey hunting season in Massachusetts for anyone over the age of 17.

Saturday marked the first day of the season for anyone between the ages 12 and 17, thanks to the Massachusetts Young Adult Turkey Hunting Day, which falls on the Saturday before the four-week spring turkey season opens. For three area friends, Saturday was quite a memorable day.

Brother-sister tandem Alazay Bauch (16 years old) and Mercedes Morales (14) joined friend Damian Willor (16) and their parents on Saturday morning to take part in the Youth Day, and all three teenagers bagged a bird within two hours.

To be certified for the youth hunt, participants must complete a two-part training. The first part is the Basic Hunter Education Course, which is required of all first-time hunters regardless of age. After that, anyone 17 and under must go through a Pre-Hunt Workshop, which in this area is held at the Conway Sportsman’s Club. Then the youths get a permit online.

Anyone under the age of 16 is still not allowed to hunt alone even after completing meeting all requirements, but must be accompanied by an adult. At the age of 16, the teenager is old enough to get a Firearms Identification Card (FID), which means he or she can go out and hunt alone if they choose.

Both families have been hunting for years now. Sabrina Parker is the mother of Bauch and Morales, and she had never hunted until six years ago, when she decided to give the sport a try. Her reason? The man she was dating — Josh Bassett — was big into hunting, having come from a family of hunters himself, and Parker decided to see what it was about.

“After a while I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll try,’ and I was lucky, because my first week out in deer season, I shot a deer and that hooked me in,” Parker said. “When turkey season started, I found that to be more fun. The turkeys interact with you. You call them. They call back to you.”

Parker said that she also loves being in the woods at daybreak.

“You hear the birds start gobbling, you hear coyotes howling, the woods just come alive,” she said. “It’s exciting.”

Parker and Bassett have been together 12 years now. Together they have not only taught the kids to hunt, but also taught them other aspects of the sport.

“We make sure they understand the responsibilities that go with hunting,” Parker explained. “You can’t just kill things. We make sure they all clean their birds and they help us cut up the meat. There is a lot of work to do after the hunt.”

In fact, there is also work to do before the hunt, and each of the three friends put in time prior to the season. Parker said the teenagers had been out early in the morning scouting for a couple of weeks. They learned things like where turkeys were roosting, and where the birds would land after they fly out of the roost.

“You try to learn where they come down, and where they’ll be and you try to find a spot that they are flying and landing near,” she said. “Then you hope that they’ll continue to do that.”

The three teens were up and into the woods before first light on Saturday morning. Mercedes went out with her grandfather, Doug Bassett, and they arrived at a spot they had scouted. At about 5:35 a.m. they heard the first gobble and the two sat down, drew the bird in and were out of the woods by 6.

Damian was just as fortunate. He and father Chuck Willor scouted a spot in Northfield and they had their bird come right in off the roost and were out of the woods by 6:30.

Alazay and Josh had to work a little more to get a bird. The two went to one spot they scouted and despite hearing birds, nothing ever came into range. They jumped in their vehicle and took off to another spot, which yielded a better result. Alazay called in gobblers and the two were out of the woods by 7:30. With that, the three met back up, checked their birds and began cleaning them.

Mercedes had the largest tom at 19½ pounds. Alazay had a 17-pounder, and Damian’s checked in at 14 pounds.

“Knowing you can go out and shoot a turkey or deer yourself, and provide, it’s a great feeling,” Parker said. “Hunting is not always fun, it’s not always warm, but once you get a bird, or you see a deer moving, it’s exciting.”

Jason Butynski is a Greenfield native and Recorder sportswriter. His email address is jbutynski@recorder.com. Like him on Facebook and leave your feedback at www.facebook.com/jaybutynski.