What is a Governor’s One Shot Turkey Hunt?
I was educated and indoctrinated a few years ago about the Tennessee Governor’s One Shot Turkey Hunt, and it is by far one of my favorite events to attend. Many great governors across the nation endorse a spring turkey hunt each year, with hunters competing for valuable prizes, and proceeds going to support state wildlife management agencies.
Non-profits and volunteers within each state work very hard to gather donations, book guides and secure prime hunting spots to entice hunters from across the country to attend. As always, it is the people behind the project, and the implementation of the event takes the initiative of a willing governor, an organization or, as in the case of Tennessee, a dedicated individual such as Jeanette Rudy.
After attending a Kansas event, Jeanette was determined to bring it to Tennessee, and appealed to then residing Governor Sunquist in 2000. Her request successful, the One Shot was born and is today one of the finest events of this type in the nation. In honor of her contribution for the inception of the event, the governor formally titled it the “Governor’s One-Shot Turkey Hunt, Jeanette Rudy Invitational Sporting Event.”
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation (TWRF) has supported the event since 2001, and I have been honored to be invited as a guide for the terrific hunt each year since 2014. John Allred does a mighty fine job of putting on the event and works tirelessly with the TWRF team to assure the best experience for turkey hunting in central Tennessee. I support them in any way I possibly can, traveling to Tennessee each year to guide, take photographs, film, and share in the fun festivities! Working for conservation, preservation, and protection of wildlife and their habitat the TWRA Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency needs every dime they can get and all Tennesseans, hunters and non-hunters alike, benefit from their efforts.
Sadly I could not make it to Tennessee this year, but I was there in mind and spirit, hunting vicariously through several guides and celebrating with them upon hearing news of their successes afield. With beautiful weather aiding the process, 140 guides and hunters tagged 70 wild turkeys.
In lieu of writing about my own personal experience this year, I have gathered my notes, and talked with a few people lucky enough to attend.
Rick Taylor, of Outdoor Insiders, is an avid hunter and has been guiding for the TN One Shot since 2010. He’s a homegrown Tennessee boy blessed with access to some prime areas holding whitetail and turkey, and his enthusiasm for the sport is what makes him the perfect guide. For the last several years Rick has been paired with hunter David Johns III, whose family hosted the very first event in Pulaski 15 years ago.
Rick had scouted a little piece of heaven in Murfreesboro, Tenn., for 2 weeks, and set a blind long before David arrived that morning. With 2 hen decoys placed on either side of a fence, along with a combination of cattle pasture, hardwoods and bordered by a thicket of cedar against the Stones River, the set-up promised success. David arrived long before sunrise, and both men settled down into the blind. It was a peaceful place … much too peaceful, in fact, until finally around 8:45 when 2 hens came in from the right to the decoy. Shortly thereafter, a tom scooted in from the left to the second decoy. The tom was digging the decoy, and was totally distracted, which allowed Rick and David to examine him closely in order to decide if he was going to be the “chosen one.” Off in the distance there appeared before their very eyes 2 grand gobblers out of the field, strutting for the 2 hens.
After a few minutes of the strutters not responding, the men chose the closer bird. It was over for David but not for Rick, as the competition allows the guide to hunt also and combine scores. With a few hours to get it done, Rick got his bird at the last hour and arrived at the reporting station with 3 minutes left to spare before closing time. The pressure was off and they both could relax and look forward to the fabulous evening banquet, auction and awards banquet.
Angela “Fergy” Hagan and her husband, Sam Hagan, are 2 rare gems for Tennessee. Both are outdoor enthusiasts who are extremely supportive of fundraising events for the conservation, preservation and protection of wildlife. Fergy guided Mountie Mizer, Beretta’s Director of Sales. He had brought along his daughter, Melody, an avid shooter of rifles and handguns. She had never been hunting and Mountie hoped to spark her interest through this experience. Fergy proved to be the perfect guide for that!
The day unfolded with the team of 3 walking up to the blind in darkness when a gobble broke the silence, which is great, except that it was coming from the tree right next to the blind! They had to move quietly and quickly to find a place to sit down and set up without spooking the birds, and the mission was a success as the birds came down from the roost. First there was a beautiful gobbler, several jakes, later joined by lots of hens. The plan seemed to be coming together, except the turkey were all 80 yards away. The gobbler proceeded to breed a hen, then another and it was quite a spectacle. Despite Fergy’s calling, there was too much action going on, and the birds never came within range.
With the clock ticking, Fergy decided to move operations to another farm. They were onto some turkeys fast, and while stalking, ran smack into a 2000-pound bull! With careful consideration, they decided not to try his patience and set up across the fence on the spot. With Fergy’s first soft yelp, a gobble came from about 10 yards away. With her expert calling and Mountie’s sharp shooting, a gobbler went into the dust within 10 minutes. In awe of all the action, Melody became transformed, and on this day in the state of Tennessee, a hunter was born. Fergy also tagged a nice gobbler and both birds made it to the scoring station in time to be considered for the competition.
Check out the 2016 TN Governor’s One Shot Turkey Hunt guide for hunters, guides and participants and make a plan to join them next year, or find one near you.