Mother’s discovery of the outdoors leads daughter to do the same


EL DORADO, Kan. — Julia Niccoli’s mom introduced her to the outdoors to share the freedoms she helped defend and the peace of mind she’d come to find. Their weekend at the Kansas One Shot Turkey Hunt delivered plenty of both.

A U.S. Navy veteran, Jessica Niccoli launched her own exploration of the outdoors as an adult. She was drawn to the balance of tranquility, excitement, self reliance and satisfaction adventures in the outdoors can provide.

“I started off with fly fishing and was introduced to hunting,” she said. “I didn’t grow up doing any outdoor stuff.”

On a trip to Colorado, she saw fly fishermen in action and asked them about it. That simple request opened the door to an outdoor world filled with wonders that continue to reveal themselves still.

Nature was a place for Jessica and her daughter to explore together.

“Julia and I don’t have that much in common,” Jessica said. “She does volleyball and really likes it. I wanted her to try something I like since I’m always doing stuff she likes with her.”

The two got involved with and took Julia on a chuckar hunt, which she thoroughly enjoyed.

“I loved it, and I told my mom I’d like to try hunting again,” Julia said.

That was all the blessing Jessica needed.

“She was excited to do more, which led us here,” Jessica said.

Encouragement of youth hunting is a key part of the Kansas One Shot Turkey Hunt. Organizers worked with and selected youth hunters from five different regions in Kansas, plus a randomly-chosen youth competitor in a national turkey calling contest. Julia is from Overland Park. 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.

In El Dorado, Julia and Jessica met their guide, Wade Skeen.

“We weren’t using a blind,” Skeen said. “We were running and gunning.”

After several close calls, the three were moving to a new location when Julia spotted a longboard with hens in the woods.

“We maneuvered around him,” Wade said. “We crossed a creek and a set of railroad tracks to get out in front of where we thought he was going. We got into position and started calling.”

Eventually, the longboard appeared.

“He hung up at 60 or 65 yards, so I did some soft calling,” Wade said. “He eventually dropped strut and came on in, but he was walking in at an angle that Julia couldn’t turn to and shoot. We sat frozen still and he got in super close. Maybe inside 10 yards even. At that point, he got suspicious and knew something was up. He didn’t see us, but he folded his wings and started walking away.”

“He went behind a cedar tree and they told me to get my gun up,” Julia said. “I did, and he popped back out from behind the cedar at about 25 yards.”

“When he popped into view again, she rolled him,” Wade said.

It’s an experience all involved are excited to repeat.

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