A Turkey Hunter's First Shot

Peter Frank Edwards
by Allison Glock - February/March 2012

A newbie goes into the spring woods after a turkey and finds out what it means to take a bird

Eager, a twelve-year-old Walea talked his father into taking him out with his granddaddy’s scratch box call. His father, a wise man with other, less maddening preoccupations, was not enthusiastic. But they went. A whole season passed, Walea getting nothing but an education for his trouble. He was undeterred.

Off season, he practiced his calls. Went into the woods before school and listened to the turkeys. Another season came. Walea, now thirteen, was ready.

“My first time out, I called a bird in,” he remembers, his eyes lit. “The next day, I called in a second!”

Walea smiles and shakes his head.

“It was one of the best two days of my life!”

His father was less impressed. “I remember looking over at him during the hunt,” Walea says. “He was asleep.”

Today Walea works and hunts at Palmetto Bluff, a pristine, well-appointed Auberge resort in Bluffton, South Carolina, just a short drive from Savannah. The property began as a Union Camp shooting preserve. Over time it evolved into an opulent retreat committed to conservation, with 6,500 acres of managed forest and 734 more left undeveloped for nature education programs and wildlife habitat. It is probably the only five-star resort in the world that boasts three-hundred-dollar massages, private yacht charters, and a skinning shed.

During turkey season, Walea hosts property owners and interested guests on hunts. He enjoys spreading the gobbler gospel, though most folks find the experience more challenging than expected.

“A lot of guys, especially, have a real hard time sitting still and silent for hours,” he says with a wink.