May 22, 2019
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Hartland 8-year-old bags two birds on Youth Turkey Day

Courtesy of Lewis Elliott
Courtesy of Lewis Elliott
Bentley Lane, right, and his grandfather, Lewis Elliott, pose with the two turkeys he shot on Youth Turkey Day in central Maine.

Lewis Elliott praises his grandson, Bentley Lane, for the boy’s patience, attention to detail and determination.

It also turns out that Lane’s a heck of a shot. And, for that matter, he’s also opportunistic.

On Saturday — Youth Turkey Day — 8-year-old Lane had quite a day, filling his season bag limit by shooting two wild turkeys within seconds of each other.

The first turkey was no surprise, Elliott said. But the second bird — a jake, or 1-year-old bird — simply made a tactical error that provided Bentley an opportunity he didn’t waste.

“He shot the first time at the one he thought was biggest, and then one of the other jakes that was there with it started pecking at [the bird after it fell],” Elliott said. “I handed him another shell, and he popped that one in and shot the second [bird].”

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Elliott, who lives in Hartland, as does Lane, explained that he had invested in a new shotgun that better suited Lane: A single-shot youth model 20-gauge.

“I had bought it at Cabela’s, much to the dismay of my wife,” Elliott said.

Despite his young age, this isn’t Lane’s first appearance in the BDN’s outdoor pages. In the fall of 2017, as a 7-year-old, he gained a bit of local fame when he shot his first deer, also while hunting with his grandfather.

Observant readers may remember that story for one of its odd elements: At first, Lane refused to pull the trigger, because he had been trained to never shoot a firearm without ear protection. (Elliott solved that problem by sticking his own fingers into his grandson’s ears).

Elliott said that on this turkey hunt, Lane was doubly prepared, with both earplugs and headphones.

[7-year-old bags first deer, but only after grandfather provides old-fashioned ear protection]

On the evening before Youth Turkey Day, the hunting party did what groups like theirs often do.

“We spent Friday night down at camp, watching old VHS tapes of turkey hunting and playing cribbage,” Elliott said. “Bentley could not lose playing cribbage. He beat his father a couple of times and he beat me a couple of times. He’s an 8-year-old kid, but he’s sharp as can be. And lucky, which counts a lot when you’re turkey hunting, I guess.”

The next morning, as had been forecast, it was rainy and miserable. That forced the group to find a place to set up where they could stay dry. They opted for a new pump house on the edge of a field. Though dry, it wasn’t perfect, Elliott admitted.

“The only problem is, it only has one window on one end, which isn’t good for turkey hunting,” he said.

Adding to their woes: Lane didn’t have any camouflage pants to wear. That wasn’t a problem for long.

“I went into my bunkroom and found a pair of my old camo pants, cut six inches off the legs and added some suspenders and I said, Here you go. You’re all set,’” Elliott said.

[Bag a bird this season with tips and tricks from a veteran Maine turkey hunter]

The group talked turkey to a few birds early on Saturday, but a shot never presented itself. After heading back to camp for breakfast — venison burgers from Lane’s deer, along with eggs — they had a visitor who arrived with good news, just as Lane was seeming reluctant to head back out into the rain.

“My wife drives up and she says, ‘Where’s all my big, brave hunters? All those turkeys are out in the garden [near the house],’” Elliott said.

That re-energized Lane, and he and his grandfather drove down to the bottom part of the field, snuck along the edge of some woods, and got back into the pumphouse to call and wait.

After an hour or so, the birds finally came within range, though they didn’t do exactly what Lane and Elliott had hoped.

“Like turkeys do, they don’t do what you think they’re going to,” Elliott said. “[Bentley’s] sitting there waiting and they came around the other side [of the pumphouse], so we had to do a last-second shift.”

Once Lane got to the correct side of the shelter, he set up and made two great shots that impressed his grandfather.

“The kid amazes me at how he can stay composed, because I know at 8 years old, I would have been doing backflips,” Elliott said.

Watch: Learn how to call turkeys like a pro this hunting season

 



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