It’s more than just hunting — Local 5-year-old completes turkey grand slam hunting with his father

Published 10:20 pm Friday, June 22, 2018

Clay Johnston has been an avid outdoorsman throughout his life, but his proudest hunting moment came in May when his son, Samuel Johnston, completed the grand slam of turkey hunting.

Samuel is just 5 years old.

Clay and Samuel started hunting together during deer season last year, and Samuel decided he wanted to turkey hunt when the season arrived.

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He also wanted to kill a turkey, by himself, without the elder Johnston’s help.

Clay got a specialized shotgun made for his son and got him set up to be able to take down a gobbler all on his own.

“We went out that first hunt of the season, and I didn’t expect to kill one,” Clay Johnston said. “We didn’t get to practice until that morning. Within 45 minutes, he had killed a turkey. That was a great moment.”

Samuel had asked to go to Florida to turkey hunt during the season, and in March the elder Johnston obliged and he and his son made the trek down south to Inverness, Florida.

That is where Samuel killed an Osceola turkey, the second leg of a turkey grand slam.

To complete a turkey grand slam, one must kill four different subspecies of turkeys. There are four types of turkeys located in the United States: Osceola, Eastern, Merriam and Rio Grande.

Once Samuel had completed two of the four legs, Clay knew that he was going to have to give him an opportunity to complete the achievement.

“I got a call from a friend on the way back that made me start thinking about him accomplishing it,” Clay said. “That’s when I knew we were going to have to try to let him do this.”

The pair loaded up in early May and headed to El Dorado, Texas, in search of a Rio Grande turkey for Samuel to take down.

Again, the 5-year-old took down another turkey and he was only one subspecies away from completing the grand slam.

With only one available weekend remaining in the turkey season, Clay took Samuel to Kilgore, Nebraska in hopes of completing the challenge.

“It’s hunting, not killing,” Clay said. “You don’t always get what you’re going after, so we didn’t know if we’d be able to get one.”

Samuel killed his fourth subspecies of turkey, a Merriam, on May 19 and completed a turkey grand slam.

While the federation governing grand slams doesn’t keep a record of the ages of people who complete them, it is likely Samuel is the youngest hunter ever to complete the challenge.

While Clay said he was happy that his son achieved such a goal at an early age, he was happier about being able to spend time doing something he’s passionate about with his son.

“To do this with my child, it’s priceless,” Clay said. “To go out and do something that both of us love, I’m blessed. I want to give back to something I’ve had a passion for, and I’m able to do that by seeing the innocent unbridled joy that my son has when he’s able to accomplish his goals.”

While there are many goals the two have left to accomplish, Clay Johnston said he’s more excited about teaching his son about the reach of the sport of hunting.

“A lot of things that I’ve done is networking,” Clay said. “I’ve gotten to know some great people throughout this. I’ve been able to share about God to people that were mad at God or didn’t know God through this sport. That’s what I’m excited about is being able to show him that this sport goes beyond just hunting in the woods.”