March 11, 2009: As my third turkey season was slowly approaching, I could feel the anxiety pumping through my veins. I searched through the room, which is affectionately dubbed the “hunting vault”, for my slate calls, strikers and brand new diaphragm calls that I never broke the seal on last season. I remembered I had received a slate call from Lost River Game Calls. Now where did I put that? Aha, found it!! I absolutely love the feel of a wood call and this one was balanced just right in my hand with beveled edges making it easy to grip. As I put striker-to-slate my hair stood on the nap of my neck and chills bumps rose on my arms. I almost expected to hear an Eastern Tom gobble in response. Whooo… I just can’t wait for that first morning. I hope there is plenty of dew on the ground. Have you ever noticed the more dew laden the ground is the more amplified that gobble seems to be.

One of the most memorable things about turkey hunting for me is how you not only hear but “feel” the morning wake up. My hunts always start off with the burst of moist air that hits your lungs when you step out of the vehicle, then you go in stealth mode, pushing the truck door closed ever so quietly, falling in line with my husband’s foot steps as we head to our hunting spot. Once settled down on my turkey stool, back against a small planted pine, the smell of moist dirt and pine needles permeate my nostrils. As the day starts to break and the sky starts to lighten, there is an actual brief moment when you can almost hear the ground crack and a bone chilling, nearly haunting, coolness rises from the dew laden ground. That coolness last for a few minutes, just long enough to seep clean to your backbone….then it is gone. At this point if you have not yet heard a tree yelp or gobble, you start hearing purrs and soft yelps. You know the morning is about to unwind. That first booming gobble vibrates in your upper torso, the fine hairs on the back of you neck raise, and your ears almost belt out.

This year will be unlike my past two seasons. My husband, Richard, and I decided at the last minute that if I could pull together the locations and book the hunts for all four species then we would go on a quest for a Turkey Grand Slam. For those who are not familiar with that, a grand slam is harvesting one of each of the four species found in the United States: Osceola, Eastern, Rio Grande and Merriam.

One highlight of this quest is that my new found hunting friend, Wendy, will be hunting an Eastern and Rio Grande with us. Wendy is an avid hunter but has never had the opportunity to turkey hunt. There is nothing like experiencing another hunter’s first harvest and I am glad that we are going to get the opportunity to possibly share that experience with her. I also owe Wendy credit for getting the ball rolling on this decision when she made the necessary contacts for our Kansas and North Carolina hunts.

The plans are made, hunts are booked, airfare paid, and vehicle rental reservations confirmed. Our first trip begins the first part of April when we will drive to Homosassa, Florida to hunt with Billy Henderson of Deep South Outfitter (www.dsooutdoors.com). Then we fly to North Central Kansas to hunt with Brian Blackwood of NCK Outfitters (www.nckoutfitters.com). Our third leg of this quest will be Wendy and myself only. Richard has the opportunity to harvest his Eastern at home in Alabama so he opted for us to go this leg of the trip alone. North Carolina is our third trip where we will be hunting with Clay McPherson at Cutawhiskie Creek Outfitters  (http://www.cutawhiskiecreekoutfitters.com). We fly out for our last  hunt the first of May for a 5 day self-guided hunt in Powder River County, Broadus, Montana (http://www.broadusmontana.com).

I have plans to update this blog throughout our quest for those who may be interested in reading along and experiencing firsthand through updated posts and pictures. So why don’t you come along and join us on our hunt, even if only for a short while as you check in periodically; it will be nice to have you visit.

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