When hunting the ever-elusive thunder chicken, many factors come into play. Everything from the temperature to the time of day, food sources and overall weather, right down to the capricious nature of the turkey itself plays a role in whether you have a successful hunt. Attending a hunt for work, whatever the reason may be, doesn't necessarily guarantee you an animal-just like it is when you hunt for yourself. What it does guarantee is seeing a place you've typically never been to, meeting knowledgeable hunters and spending time in the woods or field.
Last week I flew to Montgomery, Alabama and hunted turkey with Outdoor Women Unlimited (OWU), Muddy Water Camo and Weatherby. Decked out in Muddy Water's comfortable and light camo, I toted the very lightweight GH-2 Weatherby-X shotgun with the new-for-2015 turkey pattern through the back woods of private lands hunted by a group of local guides. What made this hunt truly unique was that it wasn't through an outfitter or at a hunting lodge, like most industry hunts I've attended.
Dawn Singleton of Buckmaster, Jen Rodman of Weatherby, Becky Wood of OWU and I all hit the woods with local guides who took us to properties that they owned or leased, to spots that they themselves would have hunted if they weren't guiding. Both Becky and Jen had successful turkey hunting endeavors with the final result being a big ol' gobbler. For Dawn and myself-well, we weren't as lucky in the bird department. A big part of that was due to the poor weather conditions. Both days we hunted were windy, cloudy and cold-not ideal weather for turkey movement, and at that time even when the birds were out, they weren't gobbling.
According to the website, Outdoor Women Unlimited "is an organization dedicated to providing women and families with the education and the excitement of the outdoor experience through teaching outdoor life skills, sharing the knowledge of our natural resources, while building self-esteem, strengthening individual character, and promoting self-reliance in a safe and professional environment." My guide Johnnie Wood and I traversed the big woods attempting to not just find and kill a turkey, but to stick to the OWU motto. We wanted to find an exciting new outdoor experience, and I did just that.
Johnnie taught me to spot different sign, from turkey scratching and footprints, to coyote droppings. I saw my first red ant hills, and like a small child kicked one in, quickly removing my foot, to see what happened (Yes, rather juvenile, but I couldn't resist). I rode a 4-wheeler up the side of a huge hillside that made me want to close my eyes for fear of completely tipping backwards or sideways. I heard turkeys gobble; I saw three toms partake in their mating dance (sadly I was hog hunting and didn't have my shotgun). I learned all about the land and towns in which I hunted, and got to step into a 100-year-old three-bedroom home that was rather dilapidated, but still haunting in its beauty and simplicity.
Did I kill a turkey? No. Did I have an exciting adventure in the great outdoors that taught me to be a better hunter? Yes! And that is exactly what groups like OWU want; to empower one woman at a time by helping each of them to be strong, moral outdoorswomen.