My decision to go on my first turkey hunt was based on three reasons: opportunity, necessity and heritage. The onset of the coronavirus pandemic served as a catalyst that enabled me to take a trip to Edgefield, South Carolina, for an NWTF mentored hunt with my cousin, NWTF Hunting Heritage Center and Habitat Manager Travis Sumner.
To begin, the lockdown we experienced in the spring of 2020 completely changed the way we work, interact with others and, ultimately, live. When the virus hit, my company implemented a work-from-home order, and I was given the opportunity to fly home to the Carolinas and continue working. Had this not occurred, I would not have been able to take my hunter education course in time for the spring turkey season and, subsequently, participate in my first wild turkey hunt.
Although COVID-19 provided me the opportunity to come back home and learn to turkey hunt, it has taken a toll on our country. When the virus began to spread, grocery stores became scarce and private butcher shops raised prices to balance supply and demand. It was increasingly difficult to find natural protein sources at affordable prices. Hunting makes this necessity accessible and, not to mention, only requires the proper gear and due diligence. Even better, it is far more organic than most meat products found at grocery stores.
I also chose to go on this trip to preserve heritage. I have always been interested in outdoorsmanship and the role it has played in both my family and the development of this nation. With that said, I have seen first-hand the decline in hunting popularity and wanted to take an active part in preserving the culture of hunting. I didn’t decide to just start a new hobby; I wanted to help perpetuate a way of life that precedes all of us and to make a real contribution toward conservation efforts.
I am more than grateful to Travis for guiding me on my first turkey hunt and the knowledge he shared along the way. Even though it was late in the season and I didn’t get my first bird, I have a new passion to carry forward, along with the utmost respect for the mission of the NWTF.