A rarity and a rookie shared the spotlight at the Alabama Governor’s One-Shot Turkey Hunt, which was headquartered in Montgomery. The rookie was Ken Attaway of Academy Sports and Outdoors who had never bagged a turkey. It was one particular feature of the turkey that guide Mike Brunson, president of the Alabama Chapter of SCI, called to within 20 yards of Attaway that had all the turkey hunters, guides and landowners shaking their heads in awe.
After Attaway successfully capped the hunt with a perfect shot, the measuring tape came out and to their amazement, the turkey’s beard measured a whopping 12 9/16 inches. Any turkey hunter celebrates a turkey with a 12-inch beard, but one that surpasses 12 ½ inches is indeed special.
“It’s rare,” said Brunson, a veteran of the Alabama turkey woods.
Although the bird’s beard was exceptionally long, Brunson said the hunt was pretty much typical for that time of year in Alabama with one exception, “We had several birds gobbling in different directions,” he said. “The hens and gobblers stayed together until about 7:45. They were just over the hill, but we knew they were close. I was just clucking and purring.
“Then a hen started yelping. Hunting in Alabama, I find a hen that really wants to talk about every three years. I just did what she did. Whatever she did, I did back. About eight or nine hens came up and went through a little saddle, and then we spotted the two gobblers strutting on the left headed our way. They needed to come about 10 yards. Ken had his gun up and ready. I said, ‘Right, left; no left.’ He shot the bird on the left, which had a much bigger beard. That’s a rare, rare beard.”
“This was my first turkey hunt,” Attaway said. “I loved it. I think this was the best turkey hunt a man could find, right here in Alabama.”
During the day-and-a-half of hunting 65 hunters managed to take 22 turkeys. Hunt chairman, Dan Moultrie said, “This is the most turkeys we’ve killed on this hunt in quite a while. The fundraiser was a big success. We had a big crowd at the banquet. We had people here from California and Utah. It is the biggest hunting event in the United States. That’s as good as it gets.” Also in attendance was celebrity hunter, Michael Waddell of Bone Collector fame.
Conservation Commissioner N. Gunter Guy Jr. said the hunt is hosted by the Alabama Conservation and Natural Resources Foundation and money raised at the event will go to a number of different programs including the youth dove, deer and turkey hunts, Hunters Helping the Hungry and Becoming an Outdoors-Woman. Scholarships at Auburn University (Dan Moultrie Fund for Excellence) and the University of Alabama (Larry Drummond Scholarship in Arts and Sciences) also received funding from the proceeds of the Governor’s Hunt.
“You can get trophies and material things in your life, but at the end of the day, we always talk about the relationships you build and the memories you have,” Guy said. “I hope that’s the greatest thing everybody takes away from the Alabama Governor’s One-Shot Turkey Hunt.”
At the event, Mike Brunson, representing SCI Alabama Chapter, presented a check for $4,000 to Governor Robert Bentley to the Department of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries for funding the Youth Educational Trapping Program covering the State of Alabama.