To visit the National Wild Turkey Federation,
please click on their logo.
Turkeys were abundant in the 1600’
s during the exploration of Mary’s
Land by the sailing ships the Ark
and the Dove. As settlers moved
into Maryland widespread land
clearing and unrestricted hunting
led to its decimation except for a
few remnant flocks in extreme
Western Maryland. In the early
1900s, the first laws were instituted
to prohibit hunting. Game farm birds
were raised starting in 1930. By
1971 nearly 33,000 birds were
released across the state. This
venture was not effective and very
expensive. Trapping wild birds and
releasing them into suitable habitat
then was tried and proved to be
extremely successful. As a young,
wildlife biologist for the state, in
1982 I received wild birds from
Garrett County and released them
in Worcester County. During each
successive year birds were
released in all the shore counties as in other counties in central Maryland. By the
end of 2001 turkey populations were established in all 23 counties and the trap and
release program was stopped. This was truly one of the greatest wildlife
management success stories not only in Maryland but nationwide. We have been
enjoying the benefits of that effort since and many were added to the roles of the
“hopelessly addicted.”  

During the summer in 1962, I went to my mentor’s (father of my high school
girlfriend) house just about every week to practice turkey calling on a homemade
diaphragm call. That fall, I killed my first turkey at Sleepy Creek Wildlife
Management Area in the mountains of West Virginia. When I hefted that first bird
over my shoulder I became hopelessly addicted to turkey hunting and that fire has
never flickered. I’ve been fortunate since then to kill many turkeys with the bow,
shotgun, rifle, pistol and a 410-gauge handgun. One of the highlights of my turkey
hunting career was traveling two spring gobbler seasons calling in Rio Grande
turkeys and provided biological information about the subspecies for ESPN’s Under
Wild Skies TV Program. This “work” culminated in a show, "Hunting Rio Grandes in
South Texas" for the Under Wild Skies Program, which aired on ESPN. I was
blessed to meet and hunt with some wonderful people. I, also, saw some fantastic
habitat and critters in south Texas, the hill country of Texas and the panhandle of
Oklahoma and was able to call in loads of turkeys to boot. Neat thing was that after
the filming I usually stayed for a week and was able to enjoy hunting this
subspecies myself. I’ve also done a wild turkey show for Maryland Outdoors.

I still love to kill them but, now, I truly get a lot of pleasure in introducing adults and
kids to the thrill of hunting them.

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