Youth Turkey Hunters Are Setting the Pace for a Successful Hunting Season

Hadley Lane 14 Edwards, Missouri Youth Turkey Season IMG Brandon Butler
 Hadley Lane, 14 of Edwards, Missouri poses with his turkey taken during Youth Turkey Season. IMG Brandon Butler

Across much of the Midwest, youth turkey hunters have kicked off the 2024 season. Reports are good. It seems the early indication of an uptick in turkey numbers is true. Many are seeing and hearing more birds, and youth hunting success is predicting a strong season.

It’s dangerous driving country roads right now because so many drivers are distracted by puffed-up gobblers strutting within view of the road. The turkeys are in big flocks and can be witnessed out in the open at any time of day in pastures and picked agricultural fields. It’s not going to be like that much longer. Boss gobblers are busy establishing dominance.

Josh Lane took his son Hadley out for the Missouri youth season on public land near Lake of the Ozarks. Hadley is becoming a regular turkey slayer. The 14-year-old from Edwards, Missouri, took advantage of his second-to-last youth season to tag his fourth bird. This one was a healthy Jake.

The duo couldn’t buy a gobble while trying to roost birds the evening before the opener or at sunrise on April 6, 2024, but once legal light was upon them, several birds fired up.

“We tried roosting some birds but couldn’t get one to gobble and we didn’t hear any fly up. But we did see quite a bit of sign, so we came back in the morning anyways,” Hadley said.

The father and son slipped in early and set up in their favorite spot called “The Knob.”

“It was still quite dark, and he was noisy. Nothing was gobbling to my owl hooting. So we picked a spot and started to just set up our decoys. While we were doing that they started gobbling. There were at least three different birds within 200 yards,” Josh Lane said.

Josh let out a few soft tree yelps and simulated a fly-down. When the gobblers hit the ground, they came closer but never close enough to see. A hen came into their set, and they hoped the live decoy would draw in a longbeard. No such luck. Around 7:30, an hour after daylight, it got kind of quiet.

“About 10 minutes later a group of eight jakes came in and I whispered jakes. He had said he didn’t want to shoot a jake, but he was a little cold and had a baseball tournament the second day of the youth season, so he decided to shoot,” Josh said, while laughing.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) reported youth turkey hunters harvested 3,721 birds during the youth weekend, April 6 and 7th, 2024. This is a significant increase over the 2,550 birds taken during the 2023 spring youth weekend. This is a good sign that an increase in birds this year is likely true.

Live Inventory Price Checker

As seasons in the Midwest begin to open, hunters appear to be in for a good run. Reports are common throughout much of the Midwest about seeing more turkeys this past winter and early spring than in the last couple of years. A strong hatch is welcome news for turkey hunters.

Biologists are forever working to understand widespread turkey population trends, and some states have implemented new rules and regulations accordingly. Be sure to check your state’s regulations for any new rules. Like in Missouri, where hunting now ends at sunset on private land, but still ends at 1 p.m. on public land.

See you down the trail….

For more Driftwood Outdoors, check out the podcast on or anywhere podcasts are streamed.

Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, Ammoland will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply
Shopping cart