I am from Texas and I admit that there was a time when I had been brainwashed into believing that turkey hunting was just stupid. Man am I ever sorry for the twenty something year I wasted having this very wrong idea in my head. A lot, if not most of the people in my region of Texas don’t even consider turkey hunting. They are disgusted with turkey for various reasons and I just don’t get it.
My first turkey hunt was with Jerry Martin and Walter Parrot when they came to Mellon Creek Outfitters to film a TV Show. I went along because I knew the property and I was not at all excited about it. On the way down to the pasture all that I could think about was that I hoped that none of my friends found out that I had stooped so low as to hunt turkeys. As I drove the truck down the dirt roads I listened to Jerry talking with his cameraman, Dave Appelton excitedly. I thought to myself, these guys are nuts, how much fun is it going to be to shoot a turkey. As I was secretly rolling my eyes behind my sunglasses we rounded a corner on the ranch road and a gobbler was strutting in the road. Jerry and Dave got so excited and started laughing and making a plan. Jerry told me to continue driving five or six hundred yards beyond the bird and find a place to hide the truck. My first thought was, we are not only going to hunt a turkey, we are going to walk six hundred yards to do it. I was ashamed and completely put out at the thought of such insanity. I finally found a sendero (small road in the brush) and pulled the truck into it. Jerry and Dave quickly grabbed there gear and I found myself sneaking along the brush’s edge back in the direction of where we had last seen the bird. When we got to within 250 yards of where we had seen him Jerry found a small indention in the brush and said we’d set up there. He explained that he felt that if we moved any closer the bird would see us, and the hunt would be over. My eyes rolled behind my sunglasses as I took my seat behind Jerry and Dave. Jerry placed his shotgun on his knee and yelped on his mouth call. Before the smirk on my lips could relax the bird gobbled. That was cool, I thought to myself. Jerry didn’t do anything and for two or three minutes everything was silent. Once again the south Texan turkey attitude took over and I started my pessimistic negative thoughts about this whole process. Here we are sitting in probably a rattlesnake den, there is a thorn sticking me in the butt, and this fool won’t even call. Right about then as my negative thoughts were at their peak, the bird gobbled again and this time he was close. I slowly peaked up and over Dave’s shoulder to see the gobbler in full strut sixty yards away on the road. The first thing I remember noticing was the iridescent color glistening off of his breasts. Strutting right and left, up and down the road in front of us as he gobbled. About this time is when I realized that my heart was beating like no elk, mule deer or whitetail had ever made it beat before. Then, VOOOOOM vibrated in my ears. What in the hell is that, perhaps a distant jake break, or a distant airplane. It did it again and I pinpointed that it was the turkey. That’s a cool noise, why is that bird doing that? Jerry ever so slowly moved his hand down by his side and began moving his fingers in the leaves. Immediately the gobbler stopped strutting, lowered his head, and walked in our direction. Fifty yards, forty yards, thirty yards came quickly and then he stopped at twenty-five yards. He went back into strut and I swear I was looking directly in his eyes when he suddenly gobbled. In my lifetime of hunting I have had to kill a charging elephant, charging Cape Buffalo, and a charging African lion; none of them came close to startling me as much as this gobble. I know I jerked and jumped at the same time. I felt embarrassed and thankful that Jerry and Dave didn’t see me do this. Now the bird is in full strut and creeping in our direction. At this point I am in full panic. Why is he not shooting? Twenty yards and on in to fifteen he gobbles again and I about lose it, I swear I can feel the gobble in my throat he is so close. At this point he quickly dropped his strut and turned to walk away. Jerry putted on his mouth call, the bird’s head came up, and shotgun roared. When that turkey dropped I did as well. I just went completely limp and fell straight over on my back. In all of my years as a hunter that was the most exciting experience that I had ever been on. I knew then and there that I would be a turkey hunter and a good one.
I took advantage of those years with Walter and Jerry; those guys helped me miss a lot of errors that I otherwise would have made. My first season I killed the Rio, Merriam, Eastern, Osceola, and Gould’s subspecies, I have done that twice sense. I have guided an unfathomable amount of turkey hunters to their birds in Texas and loved every second of it. My new quest is to take a turkey in every state. Currently I have ten states down and I am so excited to continue on in this pursuit. It is truly remarkable at the amount of really great people I have met as a result of turkey hunting. No words will ever explain how appreciative I am of Jerry and Walter for showing me the ropes in this amazing sport. Writing an article about turkey hunting wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF). This wonderful organization has done more for turkey population then any combination of others in our country. In some areas we had stupidly killed the populations and the NWTF went to work with habitat and transplanting turkey. Today our turkey numbers are thriving due to their efforts and we should all appreciate it. If you are not a member of the NWTF, you should be. If you love turkey hunting as much as me, you owe it to yourself to join and allow some of your money to be used for the wild turkey. To the Texans that think turkey hunting is stupid, keep on thinking that, it leaves more the rest of us that have crawled out of that insanity.