IG: @officialbonecollector | MAY 09, 2024

Man, for me, turkey hunting started when I was about 12. My Uncle Morgan had come back and said we wouldn't believe what he had seen in the back corner of the field. We guessed everything from black panther to, you know, Sasquatch, and turned out, he said he had seen a wild turkey. So, lo and behold, we got to researching wild turkeys, having known nothing about them. We had already been deer hunting, and we loved that.

So now we knew there was a new species of game on our land, or back there on my Mama Waddell's property, which was my great-grandmother. My dad was a contractor, and as it grew closer to turkey season, we was calling and just running into people. We found out that there was some pretty diehard turkey hunters around there where we lived, and the county next to me, Talbot County, had a decent amount, too. Meriwether County, where I grew up, was just starting to get some turkeys in it.

We ended up heading to the sporting goods store where my dad bought a Lynch Foolproof Box Call, didn't know anything about it, literally read the directions. Man, we did everything in our power trying to figure out how to use it. You know, we were decent at it, but not that good at it.

The first time we ever went turkey hunting was behind my house, literally. We had a couple hundred acres back there that was in the Waddell name that my Mama Waddell had owned. We had a Ben Lee Owl Hooter, and a bulldog that had followed us to this old oak tree that we was going to listen from. I saw that the bulldog had followed us, I yelled at him and kind of threw a rock to scare him off. The old bulldog yelped, and just as he did, a turkey gobbled! Later we blew the owl hooter, and the turkey gobbled pretty good. We go down there - I had an old 870 shotgun that I had just bought. I had sold a little Browning 22 to buy this 870 Remington shotgun. My dad had the box call. He is literally reading the directions trying to figure out what a yelp was, and he's yelping! The turkey's gobbling every once in a while, and he's trying to go through the motions to know what he could do to trick this turkey call.

I was going to shoot with the 870. We'd been sitting there over an hour or two and hadn't heard the turkey gobbling in a while. We'd tried calling off and on. And then off in the distance there was a shotgun blast, and when that gun went off, the turkey shock gobbled. He was just over the ridge, and I guess, coming to investigate the call, the turkey stuck his head up, and when it got good and clean that I could see that it was a gobbler, I shot and killed a world record jake, in my opinion. We rode that turkey around everywhere in the county showing it off, and right then and there, I was completely addicted to turkey hunting and started digging and trying to find out everything I could.

I was fascinated by calling and tried to better myself, bought every VHS tape that I could find, rented every single one I could find in the store, and literally was mesmerized by it. Just fell in love with it. To this day since I was 12 years old, I have not missed an opening day of turkey season with my dad ever since. I'm 50 now, and we've never missed the opening day of Georgia turkey season. The rest is history and will be history, but that's how I got my start. And that's how I fell in love with turkey hunting.

Michael Waddell, avid outdoorsman and champion turkey caller from Booger Bottom, GA, is one of the faces of Bone Collector, a hunting gear brand and show featured on Outdoor TV promoting the culture of the outdoors for everyone to experience.