EL DORADO, Kan. — Peyton Madden had hunted many times before, but his first experience with the rites of spring at the Kansas One Shot Turkey Hunt opened new doors to the out of doors for him.
“It was a really fun hunt,” Peyton, 16, of El Dorado, said. “We got into a blind in the dark, and heard birds gobbling up in the trees.”
Madden, his dad and his pair of guides had hen and jake decoys strategically placed out front.
In the silence after flydown, three whitetails walked through their setup.
“When they blew at us, you could see the fog of their breath in the cool morning air,” Peyton said.
The blind overlooked a disced field of wheat stubble and stood with a running creek at its back.
“We saw the first turkey at 60 yards walking toward the decoys,” Peyton said. “He wasn’t running in, but he was definitely coming our way. He was being quiet.”
As the first turkey they saw crossed the invisible threshold and got in range, a second, larger longbeard put in an appearance of his own.
“The first turkey got close to the decoys, but the second turkey actually came in and presented a shot first, so that’s the one I shot,” Peyton said with a smile. “It was a really fun hunt. It’s definitely one of those things I’m glad I tried.”
Peyton has shot a number of hogs and deer as well as upland birds, but this spring turkey hunt was his first foray into the spring woods.
Encouragement of youth hunting is a key part of the Kansas One Shot Turkey Hunt. Organizers selected youth hunters from five different regions in Kansas, plus a randomly-chosen youth competitor in a national turkey calling contest. Sponsors gifted each with a full set of TrueTimber camouflage, a Tri-Star shotgun, a lifetime Kansas hunting and fishing license and more, then brought them to El Dorado for the three-day turkey hunting event.
After more than three decades of annual events and hard work, organizers of the Kansas One Shot Governor’s Hunt retired the name and the organization last year, but there were plenty who weren’t ready to let its tradition fade away. This spring, the Kansas One Shot Turkey Hunt was formed and held its first event, following very successfully in its predecessor’s pattern.
“I had been to some of the previous Governor’s One Shot hunts before but I hadn’t guided, though I’d always wanted to,” said. Jeremy Jackson, lead guide for Peyton Madden. “It was going on when I was a kid and I always wanted to be involved. I’m very glad they were able to keep it going.”
Jeremy is 34 and he enlisted some local help from Jake Hall, 16. Guides in the event are responsible for lining up land on which to hunt, finding birds, then seeing the process to conclusion with a hunter or two.
“I’ve been looking at the place we hunted for a while,” Jake said. “I got landowner permission to hunt it, but when Jeremy told me Peyton’s story, I wanted him to get to hunt there, and the landowner was happy to do that.”
Peyton, an avid shooter and outdoorsman, has to deal with a rare genetic disease that leaves his DNA unable to repair damage from ultraviolet light. As a result, he must don a daunting array of full-coverage clothing anytime he’s in the sun. He doesn’t let the disease define him though, and his perseverance clearly paid off.