By Scott Prater
Capt. Bill Spencer attempts to sound like a bearded gobbler. He uses a mouth call, a box call and a decoy. Often times he’ll camouflage himself in what’s known as a “blind.” He makes every effort to remain as silent and stealthy as possible — and he waits.
“The idea is to trick the bird to come in,” Captain Spencer said. “And if you’re hunting with a bow, you want to draw them in to less than 40 yards.”
This scenario will play out several times over the next few weeks.
Captain Spencer, 1st Space Operations Squadron, flight commander for Multi-Mission Satellite Operations Center Standards and Evaluation Flight, is one of a few hunters here at Schriever who have waited in anticipation for the first day of spring turkey hunting season, which began April 10 in Colorado.
He likes to hunt turkeys at Fort Carson, obviously for its proximity, but also for its terrain, and the types of turkeys (Merriams) who make their homes in the southwest area of the post.
Capt. Robert Dover, 19th SOPS chief of crew force management, on the other hand, often travels to an area north of Trinidad, Colo., for his hunting expeditions, while Seth Cannello, Schriever fitness center director, likes to travel to the state’s eastern plains.
All three use a bow to hunt turkeys and other game.
Hunting with a bow, as opposed to a rifle or shotgun, is arguably more challenging for the hunters, but they say using the weapon has several advantages.
“I started bowhunting with my dad in Pennsylvania as a kid,” Captain Spencer said. “We like it because there aren’t a bunch of people running around, and there’s not a bunch of hunters shooting guns. The experience is peaceful, relaxing, and you get to see the animals in a more natural state… they’re not frightened.”
Typically, the sport of hunting is passed on from one generation to the next, but Captain Dover didn’t start until he hit his mid 20s.
“My dad didn’t hunt, so I was never introduced to the sport until I was in college,” he said. “I started shooting rifles and shotguns with a few friends and eventually ended up turning to bowhunting because I wanted a longer season. In Colorado, the rifle season is only a week long, but bow season is a month long.”
Mr. Cannello just recently started bowhunting. He grew up in Southern Colorado, hunting with shotguns and rifles, but after a long hiatus from the sport, began bowhunting with a fishing buddy.
“I went to a local archery shop and range, tried out some of their bows, and that sort of rekindled my hunting passion,” he said. “My fishing buddy and I just returned from Hugo, Colorado, where we hunted Rio Grande turkeys. They are little easier to hunt than Merriams because they tend to roost in the same areas.”
The sport’s popularity is growing even as anti-hunting groups continue to voice opposition.
“The biggest misconception about hunters from non-hunters is that we’re just out there to kill something,” Captain Dover said. “That’s just not the case. Especially considering the licensing aspects, we don’t kill more than we can eat. We pack our refrigerators full and give a lot of meat away to places like the Marian House and different zoos. For most of us, hunting is about getting outdoors and experiencing nature.”
He explains that hunters tend to be knowledgeable about the animals they hunt and work to preserve the species.
“Most of our hunting fees go toward habitat protection,” he said. “Hunters also donate money to organizations that maintain and expand habitats.”
For now, Captains Dover and Spencer and Mr. Cannello can practice archery at the Air Force Academy or at local clubs, but they may soon be able to practice at a much more convenient location.
The 50th Force Support Squadron is planning to construct an archery range on the south side of Schriever Air Force base by the end of the year. Plans are in the works for the project to include a target-shooting range as well as a 3-D range in a river wash nearby, but funding for the project has not been secured as of yet.
“We’re planning on building a traditional straight shooting range with targets,” said Karen Draper, 50th FSS sustainment flight chief. “We’re also looking at building a 3-D range, which would consist of several target locations, with more realistic targets offering a variety of elevations and angles to take shots from.”
Ms. Draper said the archery range is slated to open later this year pending final approval and funding and urges people who may be interested in the range to submit customer comment cards at any 50th FSS location.
For more information about the proposed archery range, call 567-2525 or visit Outdoor Recreation or the fitness center.
Hunting in Colorado can get complicated, so potential hunters need to contact the Colorado Division of Wildlife to learn rules, laws and the types of licenses they need to hunt legally in the state. For information on hunting seasons, education and training in Colorado visit the CDOW Web site at wildlife.state.co.us.