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Published May 05, 2010, 11:05 AM

Area youths shoot 24-pound turkeys

The spring turkey hunt is in full swing, and two Hastings kids are bringing home some impressive birds.

By: Katrina Styx, The Hastings Star-Gazette

The spring turkey hunt is in full swing, and two Hastings kids are bringing home some impressive birds.

Dakota Theodorson, a freshman at Hastings High School, remembers the exact time he fired the shot that brought down his second turkey. It was at 6:22 a.m. Wednesday, April 17.

Theodorson’s first kill was a 14-pound bird last year, he said. This one was nearly twice the size, a 24-pound tom with a nine-and-a-half-inch beard.

Theodorson and his uncle had been out for about 20 minutes when they saw a deer walk into their line of sight. They heard the turkeys before they saw them – a hen and a tom running right toward them, Theodorson recalled.

But at about 60 yards away, the birds turned and ran behind a hill. Theodorson thought that was all he would see of the turkeys, he said.

“And then I saw this little turkey head pop up,” he said, and he took the shot.

“My heart was up in my throat,” he said. “I couldn’t really feel anything at all.”

It was a perfect shot.

“Up in the head, no BBs in the chest,” Theodorson said. “That’s exactly what I got.”

At just 7 years old, Johnny Caturia did just as well. April 27 was his first time hunting – his first day, even – when he shot a 24-pounder of his own, this one with a 10-inch beard.

Johnny’s father, John Caturia, was with him and talked him through the first hunt.

“He sat in my lap and that way I could talk into his ear and tell him what to do,” Caturia said.

Sitting still for the three hours they were hunting wasn’t an easy feat for Johnny. He and his father moved to a new spot several times before getting the shot, Caturia said. When they saw the two turkeys, Johnny was about to climb a tree because he didn’t think there were any of the birds around. It was their standing up to get into the tree that allowed them to see the turkeys, which were only about eight feet away.

Caturia had told Johnny what to look for, and that he couldn’t shoot the hens. When the birds walked up, Johnny took aim with his cousin’s single-shot shotgun and fired.

“He was able to hold the gun and point and shoot all by himself,” Caturia said.

Johnny has been working up to this moment for about two years. He started practicing shooting with a BB gun in the back yard, and this year started shooting a shotgun.

Johnny was so excited about his turkey that he was ready to get up at 4:15 a.m. again the next morning.

“He asked if he could get up the next morning and go,” Caturia said.

The best part of the experience? Johnny said it was getting to climb around in some old fencing.

“Exploring,” Caturia said. “That’s his favorite part of it.”

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