It was nine years ago this month when a far-fetched dream of mine became reality as I squeezed the trigger on a Merriam's gobbler in the Badlands of South Dakota.
The 21 pound gobbler completed my quest for a coveted Grand Slam. The fans of an Eastern, Rio Grande, Osceola and Merriam's along with a plaque from the National Wild Turkey Federation commemorating the event grace my office wall.
Although my name is forever etched in the NWTF records, so are a few hundred other hunters who have completed a Grand Slam. Not nearly as many hunters have moved it up a notch to collect the Royal Slam by adding a Gould's sub-species. Even fewer have completed a World Slam by adding the exotic Oscellated gobbler to the Royal.
I was reading my current issue of Turkey Country magazine when I stumbled upon the latest "Slam", the U.S. Super Slam. While my name gets lost among the throng who have a Grand Slam, you can count the number who have fulfilled the requirements of the U.S. Super Slam on one hand, and you'll only need two fingers.
Daniel Rorrer of Pulaski, Virginia was the first. As soon as the records have all been recorded and validated, Franklinton, Louisiana hunter Randy Stafford will join Rorrer on this other-worldly list.
What do you have to do to qualify for the U.S. Super Slam? You have to shoot a gobbler in 49 states. Why not all 50? Alaska doesn't have wild turkeys.
The fact that Rorrer never hunted wild turkeys until 1997 makes the feat even that much more incredible. He shot his first gobbler in 1998 in Florida and didn't begin his 49 gobblers in 49 states until 2001. His U.S. Super Slam was completed a year ago in Rhode Island.
Meanwhile, Randy Stafford recently completed his smack-down of 49 gobblers from 49 states and is in the process of completing the registration of each bird with the NWTF. Remarkably, Stafford's wife, Debbie is working hard to add her name to the list, having taken 26 gobblers in 26 states prior to the current hunting season.
Randy Stafford's quest also began in 1998 and Barbara Baird's Turkey Country article highlighting his accomplishments, point out some neat facts of his quest. For instance, of the 49 gobblers he took, 28 were taken on public land, 43 were called in by Stafford himself, and only two of the 49 birds were jakes (juvenile gobblers).
Stafford, incidentally, is president of the Louisiana chapter of the NWTF, working tirelessly coordinating the work of the scores of local NWTF chapters around the state.
Interestingly, both Rorrer and Stafford suffer hearing loss and I'm betting their "can't hear it thunder" problems occurred as a result of repeatedly firing a shotgun; I have hearing loss as do most other hunters/shooters I know. Rorrer offered some suggestions.
"I can't hear high-pitched sounds, far away gobbles or normal sounds from women and children," said Rorrer. "My hearing problem was the biggest obstacle I faced in my Super Slam quest. In an attempt to compensate, I learned to scan the woods ahead of me for any movement. I now wear a Phonak hearing aid that protects me from any more hearing damage."
Unfortunately, protecting hearing after losing much of the ability to hear is a bit like shutting the gate after the cow already got out. Once it's gone, it's gone. However, the accomplishments of Daniel Rorrer and Randy Stafford each taking 49 gobblers in 49 states gets a standing ovation, even if they'll have trouble hearing the applause.
Glynn Harris Outdoors is proudly sponsored by DSK, Ltd. of Minden.