I've known John Camp for the better part of three decades. When I moved to Ruston in the mid-70s, Camp invited me to join him and other friends in the deer woods.
It didn't take long for me to figure out that this guy was serious about hunting whitetail bucks. A novice deer hunter at the time, I watched and picked up from Camp some of the tips and techniques that made him such a solid deer hunter, a few of which even rubbed off on me.
In the early 1990s, I discovered another hunting activity that nudged my deer hunting to the back burner; I was introduced to turkey hunting. Now 20 years later with more than 30 gobblers to my credit, including the coveted Grand Slam, I am seriously addicted to the sport.
Meanwhile, Camp, a registered kinesio-therapist at the former Lincoln General Hospital, now retired, stuck with deer hunting, giving spring turkeys a try a couple of times before assuming he'd probably never down a gobbler. That all changed this season when he was invited by a property owner to join him to turkey hunt on his friend's land.
"I was in a hunting club once that had a few turkeys so I practiced calling some and bought a decoy deciding to give it a try. When I got to the woods that first morning and reached in the box for my new decoy; the box was empty; the decoy that was supposed to be in the box was sitting on display back at the store," Camp said.
Several years passed with only one other attempt at trying to bag a gobbler. This year, a friend invited him to hunt his property and what Camp found got him excited.
"There were lots of tracks and scratchings indicating there were turkeys on the place. I went out one morning before season and heard one gobble. That fired me up a bit and the property owner and I made plans to be in the woods opening morning to see what we could do," said Camp.
Using his years of deer hunting as a starting point, Camp had his friend set up near a deer stand on one shooting lane while he moved into the brush just off a second lane.
There were three gobblers sounding off on the property that morning and Camp was able to pique the interest of one gobbler that came his direction but hung up out of sight.
"I started out sitting on a bucket but discarded that and sat on the ground in an area where I could see only a six-inch opening of the shooting lane. Here he came up the lane and did just exactly what I hoped he would do; he stopped in that tiny opening 12 steps away and I put the bead on him and squeezed the trigger. The gun went.....SNAP," Camp continued. Apparently the shell had not been properly seated in the chamber so Camp did the only thing he knew to do; he took his eye off the gobbler, slowly slid the slide on his old Model 12 Winchester pump to engage a round and to his surprise, the gobbler was still standing there, apparently thinking the rustling movement was made by the hen he was seeking.
One shot and the 22 pound boss gobbler sporting a 12 inch beard was on the ground.
"I made a rookie mistake by reaching down and grabbing the legs of the still flouncing gobbler. It put a spur through my finger and it bled like a stuck hog," Camp chuckled.
"I got involved with our local NWTF chapter this year and that plus the fact I was able to hunt where there were some turkeys sort of lit a fire in me. I'm 75 years old," he added, "but I guess that's not too old to be considered a rookie turkey hunter."
Glynn Harris Outdoors is proudly sponsored by DSK, Ltd. of Minden.