Passing something special to the next gen

Rachel Dupree is quite proud of the big gobbler her brother, Johnathon called in for her.

Dennis “Skinny” Hallmark passed something along to me that was special. So special in fact that what I learned on that visit to Alabama with him in 1992 ignited a passion I had never felt before or since. He guided me on my first turkey hunt and when I drew a bead on a gobbler and he dropped, I was hooked just as solidly as if I had mainlined a narcotic.
For the next 20-something years, hunting wild turkeys in spring was my passion and not only did I finally learn how to do it on my own, I have had special opportunities to pass along my love for the sport to several other rookies like I was that day in Alabama.
Sarah Hebert was the first. On opening day of turkey season for youth several years later, I was asked to do for Sarah what Skinny had done for me. In other words, I was her guide for a hunt on what was then the Jackson-Bienville wildlife management area. I was privileged to call in a gobbler for this young teenager and saw in her eyes the same fire I experienced when my Alabama gobbler bit the dust.
Still later after having several successful turkey seasons under my belt, my Ruston friend, Jody Backus, asked if I would accompany him to his property to see if I could guide him to success with gobblers that inhabited his land. He was successful in downing a big gobbler.
Each episode differs in the way it plays out. When I called the gobbler in for young Sarah Hebert, it same right off the roost to the decoy we had set out. The hunt ended quickly because soon after daylight, she was packing out her first longbeard. In Backus’ case, the weather was chilly and nasty and we were on the verge of giving up when at the last minute, a big longbeard decided to make Jody’s day.
On two other occasions, I shared my know-how with a couple of other hunters who took what they had experienced when I guided them to call in and take gobblers on their own. I wasn’t there when Carla Johnson and Ross Downer got their gobblers but their success was almost as gratifying as if I had been there.
Louisiana’s turkey season opened this past Saturday and I found out about another situation in which one hunter guided another hunter, a novice, to take their first longbeard.
My nephew, Dan Dupree, lives on Clear Lake in Natchitoches Parish with his wife, Debbie and two offspring, daughter Rachel who will graduate from college this summer as a nurse and high school senior, Johnathan, who has been successful in killing a gobbler or two.
“I had located some turkeys on our hunting lease and had gone out and scouted to sort of get them located. When opening day came, I had planned to take my dad and guide him but he wasn’t able to go,” said Johnathan. “Rachel asked me if I would take her so rather than going out to chase gobblers on my own, I agreed.”
Rachel had been successful on her deer stand having taken a nice 9 point buck this past deer season but had never tried turkey hunting. They got to the woods early and as it began to get daylight, the gobblers began waking up and long story short, Johnathon used his turkey calls to entice a big longbeard to Rachel’s gun. She dropped the 21 pound bird with a 10 ½ inch beard at 30 yards with one shot from her 20 gauge Remington.
Her reaction? “I’m hooked; I think Johnathon has created something in me that I’m going to love” she said.
That’s the way it is, one hunter helping another experience the thrill of something that means so much to the guide and ultimately to the novice hunter. In my case, my helping Sarah and Jody and Ross and Carla to getting their first gobblers was right up there in soul satisfaction equal to the day Skinny watched me jump up and down with excitement over my first.
That’s the magic turkey hunting induces.

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