Column: Walking in someone else’s footsteps

Published 8:35 am Tuesday, March 12, 2024

BROOKHAVEN — For most of my 25 years of life I’ve walked in the footsteps of others. My dad, my grandfathers, my mom, my grandmothers. 

In the hunting world, I’ve walked in the footsteps of Steve, who was mentored by his cousin George. I reckon we have covered at least a hundred miles if not more. I haven’t killed many animals with Steve aside from an alligator and a hooded merganser. 

What I have gained is invaluable experiences. One of the toughest lessons I learned was missing a huge buck on a draw hunt at Natchez State Park. Watching several bucks chase a doe was an experience I’ll never forget. I’m still trying to not rush my shots and getting better at controlling my breathing to help calm the nerves. 

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Last year, George and Steve took me on a turkey hunt and called a turkey within 20 yards of me through a pine thicket. I have heard gobblers before but I had never heard a Tom gobble that close. George is probably still laughing at how I jumped out of my skin. The sound shakes you if you have never experienced it. The bird was pulled away by a hen and we never saw him again. 

As the morning dragged into the afternoon Steve took the time to show me ways of identifying trees. He continued to do so in our last couple of turkey hunts for the year. I can confidently say my tree identification has improved, although I’m still learning. 

Steve has also shown me the importance of habitat management and offered tips on how to manage the habitat for deer and turkeys. I would say I’m a better woodsman and conservationist because of his influence. He is a great friend. 

Spring and turkey season are getting closer and closer by the minute. I’m sure one day I’ll be able to drop a turkey and graduate from Steve’s Hunting 101 course. It doesn’t mean I’ll be done learning from him. After all, Steve is in this picture following in his Cousin’s footsteps and still learning from him.

Hopefully I’ll have the chance to introduce someone to turkey hunting and the conservation of our natural resources. Turkeys are special birds and the mentorship found along the way is just as special.