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Saturday, September 17, 2011

JAKES Day...Turkey Extravaganza!

Who would have thought there could be so much excitement over turkeys?!

We woke up bright and early this morning to arrive at a local ranch to help with set up.  Sean was asked to help with the 4H booth at the annual JAKES Day event.  Well, once one starts helping the others follow along, especially at an event like this one.  We found ourselves blowing up about 100 balloons to create a target board for longbows and BB guns.  This is where Sean would spend most of his morning. 

Once the event began, we left Sean behind to join the 300 other children and adults around the stations provided by various groups invited by the National Wild Turkey Federation.  We were divided up in groups of ten to make the rounds. 
We began the adventure at the trilemetry station where we learned how to track a wild turkey.  We learned that a simple radar device attached to a turkey can allow wildlife biologists an opportunity to track the movement of the turkeys.  The children were even given an opportunity to find a 'turkey' with the equipment.

We then headed for the booth set up by the Texas Game Wardens.  This station was called "The Wall of Shame."  There were several animals that were found by the game wardens due to illegal hunting.  These animals are now used to show children (and adults) the importance of following the laws.  The children especially enjoyed seeing the bald eagle that was found in the woods after the Columbia space shuttle fell in East Texas.  The game wardens are not sure what caused the eagle to die because there was nothing apparently wrong with the bird.  It made quite a specimen for the display.  The game warden spoke about the conservation strategies related to the bald eagle, as well as other animals. 
Our third stop was our 4H archery booth.  Henry and Edward enjoyed sending a few arrows out to the balloons we had blown up earlier in the morning.  Bow hunting is one the favorite ways to hunt turkey.  The long bow that we shot at this booth is not used as much anymore but it is still fun way to learn how to shoot an arrow.   We had several of our senior 4Hers helping with this booth.  Treyton and Caleb were especially helpful at guiding the younger children in hitting the balloons. 
The BB guns were also a hit for our group.  Brendan was convinced that this was the gun for him.  Unfortunately, the leader of this 4H booth felt that a 2 year old was a little young for a gun.  I finally convinced them to let me hold the gun while he shot it.  It just was not the same...Brendan sulked as he watched his older brothers have all the fun!  Maybe next year!
The fifth station proved to be a noisy spot!  The children were shown how to do turkey calls by award winning callers.  There were several types of calls and the children were all given the opportunity to try there best to call some turkeys.  Imagine ten little ones all given noise makers all at once!  However, by the end of our session, the children were actually sounding like a rafter of turkeys! 
The next station was a stop at the Texas Forest Service booth.  They spoke to the children about wildfires (very relevant to our area right now) and how to prevent them.  I did not take any pictures at this booth because I was too busy talking to the volunteer fire fighters about how thankful we are having them available.  Also, they helped me choose some educational posters given out by the Forest Services.

Next, we were off to a second archery booth with compound bows.  There were easy to shoot and the boys loved having multiple turns shooting at targets and a deer.  Edward was given a lot of one on one guidance.  Henry was happy that he always hit his target. 
This was followed by a shooting station sponsored by another county 4H group.  The boys were allowed to shoot two types of shotgun and a 22 rifle.  Edward shot the shotgun first and that was enough for him.  It definitely had a kick to it but most of all it was loud.  He never could stand loud noises.  So he did not shoot any of the other guns.  Henry, on the other hand, shot everything he could get his hands on.  He really enjoyed this station.  I can see shooting sports project in our future.
Just when you thought you had learned all there was to know about turkeys, we found ourselves at the next station!  We had a wildlife biologist talk to us about the biological facts of a turkey.  This included information from the nest and on throughout the lifespan of a turkey.  We especially enjoyed learning about the juvenile turkeys, called jakes, as well as the different turkey feet. 

Our final stop was at the fishing station sponsored by Academy.  The boys love to fish, but to add to the fun, Academy gave out $10 gift cards for the participants who landed their 'hook' into the circle.  Each of the boys walked away with a gift card!  Thanks to Academy for coming out each year!  To finish up the great event, we were served a hot dog lunch and more prizes were given out.  The Winston Ranch gave away a free youth hunt and Academy gave away more gift cards and camping chairs.  Edward won a nice camping chair! It was just a great day over all! 

A big thank you to the National Wild Turkey Federation for another successful year!
Here are a few websites that relate to the events of the day:

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