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News Story
Updated: 04/24/2014 08:00:01AM

The feathers of frustration

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ARCADIAN PHOTO BY STEVE BAUER
The author with his Washington state Merriam's tom, the largest he's bagged to date. He bagged the turkey after it gobbled in response to the opening of a soda bottle.

ARCADIAN PHOTOS BY STEVE BAUER
Bauer completed his turkey grand slam in 2005 by bagging this Osceola after a 2-hour belly-crawl through palmettos and swampland in south-central Florida.

By Steve Bauer

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A few weeks ago, Karen Smoke penned an insightful Over the Garden Gate column about wild turkey behavior. Reading her piece, one sentence in particular caught my eye: “Meleagris gallopavo is known for its crafty and secretive nature.” I couldn’t help but smile at the statement, mostly because as a hopeless “turkey addict” I can attest these birds are indeed crafty and masters of detection. But if you ever want to pick a fight amongst a group of hunters, just mention the words “smart” and “turkey” in the same sentence. Chasing these beautiful creatures is a lesson in patience, because no two experiences are ever alike, even with the same bird. Wild turkeys will baffle even the most experienced hunter, making maddening last-second moves that can’t be explained with any type of logic or reason.

Early in my career, I was an editor for North American Hunter magazine, one of the largest sportsmen’s publications in the country. During that time, I had the opportunity to travel across the globe hunting everything from grizzly bears to prairie dogs. My most rewarding trip came in April 2005 when I scored a turkey “grand slam,” bagging Merriam’s, Rio Grande, eastern and Osceola turkeys on a coast-to-coast trip from Washington state to Florida. The feat was a combination of determination, skill and on one occasion plain dumb luck. Although the trip was a success it cemented my long-held belief that, like the game of golf, even the most seasoned veterans can be humbled in the blink of an eye.

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