On the first turkey hunt of his life, Carlton Cipriano, 5, made a shot other hunters only dream of.

The boy bagged two jake turkeys — young males — with a single shot from a 12-gauge shotgun while hunting late last month with his father and godfather in Cornville.

Four turkeys were in range of the boy’s gun sights with two turkeys standing in the middle, his dad said.

Carlton, the son of Michael and Shanna Cipriano of Athens, took aim at the middle pair and then squeezed the trigger. The spread pattern of the steel shot turkey load was enough to cover the 40-yard distance and take down both birds.

The turkeys were shot in Cornville on the property of a family friend on Maine’s first youth hunting day of the spring turkey season — April 25.

Youth hunting days are reserved for hunters younger than 16. The requirement to register turkey was suspended this year because of COVID-19.

The boy shared a tiny camouflaged ground blind with his dad and his godfather, Andrew Paradise. A homemade tripod helped the boy balance his shotgun while a wooden butt kick plate absorbed the recoil of the shot. Carlton’s dad made the device as a teenager. He said he used it to shoot moose from 400 yards.

For his son’s first turkey hunt, Michael Cipriano cut down the legs of the tripod, shortening them to his son’s size. The boy stands 46.5 inches tall while the gun is 45 inches long. The alteration to the tripod allowed the boy to shoot from a standing position. The turkeys he shot weighed 15 to 16 pounds each, according to Michael Cipriano.

At 5:45 a.m., the turkeys were on the move, Michael Cipriano said. The three hunters had to hustle about 800 yards before getting inside the small blind and setting up the tripod. Six minutes later, Carlton got his chance. Afterwards, the boy was so excited he jumped and cried, his father said.

“When he was born, we bought him a lifetime hunting and fishing license,” Michael Cipriano said.

Each year, the license comes with a free turkey permit for hunters younger than 16.

Carlton was introduced to hunting and fishing when he was 3. Before learning to shoot, he trailed his dad on grouse and partridge hunts. He walked on his heels to stay quiet and carried a stick instead of a gun.

The boy received a BB gun for Christmas when he was 4. Next, he learned how to shoot a .22-caliber rifle, a .410 shotgun and a 12-gauge shotgun.

Turkey hunter Carlton Cipriano, 5, takes aim with a 12-gauge shotgun at his Athens home May 3 using the tripod and wooden butt kickplate his dad, Michael, left, made and that Carlton used when he shot two turkeys with one shot April 25 during a free youth hunting day.

IN HIS OWN WORDS

An interview with Carlton Cipriano of Athens, with his dad, Michael, nearby, about how the 5-year-old bagged two jake turkeys — young males — with one shot this spring.

Q – How long have you been hunting?

A – Two years.

Q – Is this your first turkey season?

A – Yes, this was.

Q – What happened on this year’s hunt?

A – So, first when we got out of the truck — Dad, remember? — we heard the gobbling? Then first I shot two (turkeys) in one whole shot. Pow! Then one ran under the stump. Remember that, Dad? One was scared. He was suffering and I didn’t want to shoot him.

Q – What kind of equipment did you use?

A – A gun. It was a 12 gauge. A camouflage gun. And camouflage shirts and pants.

Q – What do you use for protective gear?

A – I use earmuffs, right Daddy? My special boots, my winter boots and my winter gloves to keep my hands warm. And we got up at 4 o’clock. Remember that, Dad? Even when it was still dark in the morning. Geez, I was so cold, like when I first ran outside to go get into the truck. I was like brrr, it’s cold.

Q – Is hunting difficult? If so, how?

A – Yeah, because turkeys have wicked-good eyes. They see you, then go snap, then they turn and see you, then they go, ‘Oh boy, trouble’s coming.’ They always fly by the decoys, right Daddy? They always see me. But first, when I blink one time, then go gobble, gobble, gobble. Pow. They just go into the woods and they never come back.

Q – What do you like doing when not hunting?

A – You can ride a four-wheeler. I make steps from rocks. Then we can go up the big bank. So we can go in the brook at summertime and then we can cool off.

Q – What’s your favorite food?

A – I like mac ‘n’ cheese and I like pineapple.

Q – Could you give any young hunters advice?

A – You just grab a gun. Then you like stand still. Then you go POW! Point the gun down when you have it. Then no one gets hurt.


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