Kindal Tonn of Lacassine and Seth Gottardi of Slidell were honored as the 2016 Louisiana Female and Male Youth Hunters of the Year at the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association banquet in Natchitoches on Aug. 12.
Tonn, 13, harvested a spike while taking part in a management hunt at Bamberger Ranch in Johnson City, Texas, in February of 2016.
“I was the only girl on the hunt (that) weekend,’’ Tonn said. “That made me nervous but I made the most of it."
She was hunting with her father, Robert, and a guide when she spotted the spike during a morning hunt.
“The spike offered a clear shot and I took it,’’ Tonn said. “After what seemed like an hour — but was really about 15 minutes — we were able to go look for him. After going over one hill, through a valley, across a small creek and up another hill, we finally found him on top of that hill.
“It was a great weekend spent with my dad and the outdoors. And come to find out the only deer shot and recovered that weekend was killed by the only female hunter — me.’’
Gottardi, 15, was hunting with his grandfather, Rick Gottardi, in Washington Parish in the spring of 2016 when he harvested a 20-pound turkey with a 9-inch beard and 1-inch spurs.
“I’ve been my Pawpaw Rick Gottardi’s hunting buddy since I was 7 or 8 years old,’’ Seth Gottardi said. “He bought me a lifetime hunting and fishing license when I was a baby. He also attended my safety training (class) with me when I was 11 and I harvested my first deer with him when I was 12.’’
The fact his grandfather called the gobbler in made it even more special.
“My heart was pounding so hard and my arms were heavy from holding my shotgun up,’’ Seth said. “I leveled the bead on its head and Pawpaw whispered, ‘Let him have it.’ I pulled the trigger and got him. I just harvested my first wild turkey. Paw Paw and I high fived and said a little prayer, thanking the Lord for this hunt. I absolutely love to hunt and I am thankful that I am in a family that gives me this opportunity.’’
The Youth Hunter of the Year Program is a joint effort with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Louisiana Wildlife Federation and the Louisiana Outdoors Writers Association.