Editor's note: In this blog, Editor Brian Lovett looks back at memorable moments in his turkey hunting journey. This entry covers his first out-of-state hunt.
After I'd stumbled my way to a few Wisconsin gobblers and jakes, I took the next logical step in my turkey hunting career: becoming the editor of a turkey hunting magazine.
OK, that's not exactly how it worked. Basically, my employer decided to bring the editorship of Turkey & Turkey Hunting in-house during Summer 1995. "Hey, you're a turkey hunter, aren't you?" someone asked.
"Sure," I replied.
"Congratulations," they said. And I was the new editor of T&TH.
As part of my duties, I got to go on an Alabama turkey hunt with the folks at Mossy Oak. I was thrilled to meet those famous hunters, including Toxey Haas, Ronnie "Cuz" Strickland and then-videographer Troy Ruiz, plus a little-known but soon-to-be-renowned guide at Bent Creek Lodge: future three-time World calling champion Don Shipp.
"This will be awesome," I thought. "These guys are accomplished turkey killers, and I know a little bit about turkey hunting, too."
And after about an hour in their esteemed company, I realized that I knew very little about turkey hunting. But the crew was very patient with me, and on the second morning of our hunt, we struck gold.
As dawn was breaking, three birds gobbled deep in a woodlot. Toxey gave Troy and me the thumbs-up, and we headed across a field toward them. The birds choked themselves on Toxey's first tree yelps, and then they sprinted off the roost to within yards of my quaking gun barrel.
They were jakes, but I didn't care. Neither did Toxey.
"You haven't killed many turkeys, have you?" he whispered.
"Nope," I replied.
"Well, go ahead and ... ."
With that, I flattened the middle bird and had an Alabama turkey. Sure, it was a jake. And yes, I'd shot the bird to the left of the turkey Troy had asked me to shoot for his video, but it was OK. With handshakes all around, we celebrated a great March morning.
During those whirlwind days 16-plus years ago, I received a lifetime of lessons about my new favorite activity and vocation. When I returned to Wisconsin, I figured that maybe I'd learned a tiny bit about turkey hunting.