Gobblers and girls, toms and hens, better watch out in Chester County during turkey season because a new group of predators is on the loose – and they have the cops on their side.
And one turkey tamer, 10-year-old Ashley Bellavance, showed that first-time hunters who hang with Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood and his deputies and buddies are double trouble. Ashley, who had never seen a wild turkey before Saturday, bagged two turkeys with a single shot.
Her guide, Chief Deputy Robert Sprouse, witnessed the one-in-a-million shot with a shotgun filled with – you guessed it – bird shot.
“She’s already one for the record books,” Sprouse said. “These turkeys are 18, 19 pounds apiece. Big fellas.”
Ashley shrugged off the accomplishment as routine, although she is special after Saturday’s first shot, first hunt double-whammy.
“I did get them both with one shot,” she said.
The hunt was organized by Underwood as part of his program to show children who normally would not have a chance to experience the joys of nature. Several of his deputies, state wildlife agents, and other guides help out as volunteers, and the kids get to go out into the wild with experienced hunters to teach them safety and enjoyment.
“The whole idea is to show kids what we have out here, and spend time with them,” said Underwood, a lifelong outdoorsman.
Underwood’s outdoor program garnered international attention late last year, after the sheriff, known as “Big A,” took a 9-year-old boy from Pennsylvania hunting and fishing after a mix-up with the location of the program. Alex Collins, who lives in Chester County, Pa., thought when he saw the program on Facebook that it was in Chester County, Pa.
When Underwood and the Chester County, Pa., sheriff – who already were friends – found out about the mistake, they brought Alex, dubbed “Little A,” to South Carolina for three days of outdoor fun.
The Herald’s coverage of the mistake turned trip of a lifetime for Little A spread across the globe.
Underwood’s program continued Saturday with South Carolina’s youth day for turkey season, which starts officially Wednesday. All the kids – Ashley, K.J. Hemphill, Quadarious Fair, Austin Burtelle, James Sanders, Sydney Estes, Ka-Darius Turner and Coleman Hoffman – all got a turkey tag license and were taken by their own personal guides to secret spots to hunt. Several even learned how to use turkey callers.
“Sounds just like a turkey,” K.J. said.
Ashley was the only youth hunter to bring home a turkey from the Saturday morning outing, but 13-year-old Sydney went back out hunting with her father, Lee Estes, and bagged her own turkey after lunch.
But all the kids left happy and got a lunch from deputies out of the deal, too, after starting their chilly day before dawn.
Everybody went to Wendy’s – and nobody ate turkey.
Andrew Dys • 803-329-4065 • firstname.lastname@example.org