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Unforgettable Adventures and Unyielding Determination
EDGEFIELD, S.C. — Completing just one of the National Wild Turkey Federation’s turkey hunting slams is a remarkable feat, and it’s a goal that many avid turkey hunters aspire to accomplish in their lifetime. Two individuals, though, have achieved something rare through the completion of all six of the NWTF’s wild turkey slams.
In the pursuit of this achievement, Clyde Neely from Kingwood, Texas, emerged as the trailblazer, becoming the first person to complete and register all six NWTF wild turkey slams in 2012.
Fast forward to 2023, and Chip Davis from Grenada, Mississippi, has become the second person to complete and register all six NWTF turkey hunting slams into the NWTF Wild Turkey Records. Davis embarked on his journey toward completing the slams in 1992 when he took his first trip to Missouri. At that time, his goal was simply to harvest a turkey outside of his home state. Upon achieving this goal, he looked to what might come next, and for him, it was going after the Grand Slam ? harvesting the Eastern, Osceola, Rio Grande and Merriam’s subspecies.
“This decision is much like just living life every day,” Davis said. “In life we all set goals, but sometimes we don’t set the biggest goals first.”
After achieving the Grand Slam, his ambitions naturally progressed to the Royal Slam, the World Slam and then the U.S. Super Slam. After 30 years of turkey hunting across the United States, from tent camping to hotel hopping, Davis eventually accomplished the Super Slam, harvesting one wild turkey in all 49 states with a turkey season (Alaska does not have a huntable population).
The completion of the Super Slam marked a significant milestone for Davis, as only 16 hunters had officially registered the 49-bird slam before him. However, he didn’t stop there. With only a few slams remaining, Davis set his sights on international turkey hunts.
While he estimated about 95% of his trips within the U.S. were do-it-yourself hunts, Canada requires nonresident hunters to use an outfitter. As for Mexico, Davis said the use of an outfitter “just made sense.” Even with outfitters, he called his own birds and made his own decisions. Turkey hunting is interactive by nature, which is why many hunters love it. So, he strived to actively participate and make his own decisions, ensuring that he had a hands-on role in every aspect of each hunt.
Among the countless hunts Davis embarked on, two stand out in his memory. His favorite hunt took place in Tamaulipas, Mexico, where he had the opportunity to hunt Rio Grande wild turkeys in the Sierra Madres. The vast half-million-acre terrain allowed him to harvest two mature toms, making it an unforgettable experience as part of the Mexican Slam – harvesting a Rio Grande, Gould’s and Ocellated turkey in Mexico only.
On the other hand, Davis’ most challenging hunt occurred in the Canadian Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, where the terrain was steep, rocky and lacking in wild turkeys. This hunt marked his final endeavor in completing the Canadian Slam (Eastern and Merriam’s subspecies in any Canadian province) and achieving all six slams.
After successfully harvesting his last bird to complete the Canadian Slam and the sixth and final slam, the moment proceeding was filled with quiet and somber reflection as Davis contemplated the end of an era and wondered what lay ahead.
“It’s very hard to put into words,” he said.
Davis said he felt extremely bittersweet with the juxtaposition of his enthusiasm and a sense of humble accomplishment along with profound sadness, realizing that this chapter of his life, which he had invested so much time and effort into, had finally ended with one last trigger pull.
Throughout his 31-year turkey hunting journey, Davis has learned volumes about wild turkeys and turkey hunting and faced numerous challenges along the way. Despite encountering inclement weather, scheduling issues, pressured turkeys and even canceled hunts due to COVID-19, he learned that preparedness was the key to overcoming obstacles.
“The single greatest thing that someone can do to enhance their success rate, either in turkey hunting or in life, is preparedness,” he said.
Through the setbacks and failures, Davis believes that the experience gained from these challenges shapes individuals into better turkey hunters and equips them with valuable life lessons.
“Turkey hunting and the challenges of these slams, again, is like life,” he said. “We never know where our next challenge is coming from. What we can absolutely be certain of is a challenge is coming. How we deal with that challenge is what sets us apart.”
For Davis, turkey hunting is about more than just chasing turkeys; it’s about meeting new people, exploring new places and having unforgettable experiences. His encounters with fellow hunters along the way have turned into lifelong friendships. Now, he looks forward to revisiting some of the beautiful places he discovered during his turkey hunting journey and taking his two grown sons — who share his turkey hunting obsession — to those cherished locations.
One piece of advice he leaves for hunters that may follow in his footsteps is to never give up the pursuit of your passions.
“Will there be challenges? Will there be obstacles?” Davis asked. “You bet. But never, ever stop chasing your goals.”
About the NWTF Wild Turkey Slams and NWTF Wild Turkey Records
As a testament to his commitment to turkey hunting and the conservation of wild turkeys, Davis encourages all those who strive to complete these slams to register them officially through the NWTF Wild Turkey Records Program. Renowned outdoor writer and hunter Col. Dave Harbour created the Wild Turkey Records Program and passed ownership of it to the NWTF in 1982. Since, it has amassed more than 27,000 registered wild turkeys.
Davis himself has registered his slams with the NWTF, acknowledging that it not only recognizes his achievements but also contributes to the conservation efforts for these magnificent birds.
“I think that a turkey hunter almost owes it to the wild turkey out of respect, to register your slams,” he said. “It helps all of us to record them for the benefit of wild turkey.”
By registering individual birds or complete slams, hunters contribute to a crucial cause: the conservation of the wild turkey and the preservation of our hunting traditions. The funds raised through these registrations play a significant role in supporting the mission of the NWTF and provide an official record in history. The collective efforts of the NWTF, past, present and future, contribute to the health and sustainability of wild turkeys for the enjoyment of generations to come.
Upon completion of any harvest or slam, hunters can register their wild turkey through the NWTF either online or by mail, and your accomplishment will be recognized through receiving a slam certificate(s) for each accomplished slam, a distinctive wild turkey record slam pin(s) for each accomplished slam, and your slams will be published on the official NWTF web site.
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