Breckin Dowdy, Macayla Cooke and Tammy Guess are all related — they are a three-generation family of hunters.
“It’s kind of neat when you have multiple generations, especially females,” Guess said.
Guess is Cooke’s mother and is Breckin Dowdy’s grandmother. Cooke is Breckin’s mother.
Last year, Breckin, now age 5, participated in Kentucky’s youth turkey hunting season.
The youth turkey hunting season takes place the first weekend in April. Those two days are reserved for hunters 16 and younger.
“Her first time, she was 3, and she sat in a blind with me and we shot a doe. She walked miles with me to track it,” Cooke said.
The Guess family farm sits on 287 acres near the Cumberland River in Kuttawa. Cooke and Breckin live in Caldwell County.
“Our first turkeys came from Kansas, I believe,” Guess said. “The first turkey hunting season didn’t take place until the 1980s.”
Prior to the reintroduction of turkeys in the 1960s, turkey hunting season was non-existent due to drastically low levels of turkeys.
The breeding cycle begins in mid-March. Toms and jakes are the male suitors who compete for hens. Jakes are the subordinate male turkeys who take after the toms.
The general hunting season for wild turkey is April 17 to May 9. All legal and eligible hunters can harvest wild turkey during this time.
“By the end of deer season, we can have enough food in the freezer to feed us all year,” Guess said.
Guess, Cooke and Breckin continue a long history of hunting tradition. It is experienced as quality bonding time, Guess said.
For them, hunting and harvesting is not a sport. “I mean there’s been times that I’ve lost deer, she’s lost deer, and it’s sad. I hate it,” Cooke said.
Natural turkey predators are snakes, raccoons, ’possums, bobcats, coyotes, skunks, hawks and eagles. Turkeys are hunted by some of these animals and their eggs are desecrated.
Saturday, the ladies will set up their camp at around 5 a.m. and they will hunt until 10 a.m.
Last year, Breckin had to wait until 9 a.m. before harvesting her first turkey.
“His eyes are thousand times better than ours. It takes a lot for the little ones to pull it off,” Guess said.
Gear used for turkey hunting includes a handheld call, a blind, turkey vest packs, hunting rifles, a tripod, decoys and a chair.
Breckin is currently in preschool. In September, she’ll be a kindergartener.
After the hunting expedition, Cooke and Breckin are traveling to Florida for a beach vacation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted hunting in Kentucky.
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife has canceled group hunter education courses, in-person hunter education courses, and prohibited live-fire range days.
The Hunter Education certification can be earned by completing a virtual classroom exercise and submitting a video recording of the outdoor range portion of the course.
All hunters born on or after Jan. 1, 1975, are required to get a valid hunter education course completion card, in addition to proper Kentucky hunting licenses.
Turkeys in Kentucky are exhibiting deformity. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife researchers have collected turkeys that have wart-like growth throughout their heads and legs.
They recommend that turkey harvesters submit wart-like turkey carcasses to local private lands biologists or Fish and Wildlife. Conducting clinical research on some of the unknown viruses will aid in determining its impact, which is still unknown. Fish and Wildlife officials said the wart-like skin growth is not communicable to humans or other animals.