High School Football

Jackson County hunter gets a huge jump on the U.S. Super Slam in 2023

RIPLEY, W.Va. — Nathan Taylor of Ripley takes his turkey hunting very seriously. While a large majority of West Virginia hunters look forward to the opening day of deer season, Nathan looks forward to the opening day of turkey season, both spring and fall. It would explain his decision to pursue the Super Slam of turkey hunting

“I want to see what I can experience that’s different from what I experience when I turkey hunt in Jackson County, West Virginia,” Nathan explained in a recent edition of West Virginia Outdoors.

Nathan’s bird from Idaho which he scouted and killed using information from friends over the phone from previous hunts.

The wild turkey Super Slam is achieved when a hunter kills a wild turkey in 49 states. Since Alaska has no turkeys, that one is out of the equation, but all other states, including Hawaii, have at least one species or wild turkey. The western birds are typically Merriam’s. The desert southwest features the Rio Grande turkeys. The Osceola is found in Florida and of course the Eastern Wild Turkey is the most prevalent in all mid-western and eastern states.

“Some of the things I got to witness this past spring are things that will go in the memory bank for a long, long time,” he explained.

Nathan had a hunting season which will be hard to ever replicate. He killed 17 turkeys in 11 states and nine of those states were first timers. Turkeys in 2023 fell to Nathan’s shotgun in Florida, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Indiana, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.

“There’s a lot of things that have to go right in a turkey hunt and this year everything that could go right, did go right,” he explained.

The western swing for 2023 was the most productive stretch and certainly put him further down the line than he would have anticipated. He killed his California bird in a walnut grove in the Sacramento River Valley. The birds roosted just across the river in a stand of cottonwood trees and the hunt was over almost as quickly as it started.

“The prettiest Rio Grande turkey I’ve ever seen flew right out into that walnut grove and landed 35 yards away right after shooting light. Oregon was the same way. I headed up the interstate and that night put some birds to bed and the next morning the same thing happened there,” he explained

Nathan had allowed time on his trip to get California, Oregon, and Washington off the list, but the quick success caused him to have extra time, so he rolled across the border into the Idaho panhandle. With some phone conversations with friends he was able to locate birds and a day later clicked Idaho off the list.

His Washington hunt wasn’t scheduled for a couple more days, so he kept trucking east into Montana and kept looking for advice. He found it in a remote coffee shop in the middle of the small town of Thompson Falls, Montana.

“I went in to get a coffee and the lady asked if I needed anything else. I told her a blueberry muffin. She asked again if I needed anything else, I told her I needed a place to kill a turkey,” explained Nathan.

Nathan Taylor with a double from Rhode Island during the 2023 season

You never know until you ask. The lady motioned for her husband to enter the conversation and it turned out to be a profitable friendship.

“He brings up Onyx on his phone and tells me people who hunt all these nearby places in the fall. Sure enough with that guidance I was able to find a place and put a bird to bed and got him the next day. Those are the kinds of things you just don’t expect, but they are incredible memories and stories from this quest,” he said.

He also got his Washington bird on the trip.

The quest continues. Nathan is now up to 19 states and has a ways to go. He’s also friends with Tanner Burns from Buckhannon who completed the Super Slam a few years back. Both agree, it’s about the journey, not the destination.

“If you’ve hunted Rios or Merriam’s, they live in some beautiful places. Then the stories about the people you get to meet and when I was talking to Tanner, he went to taxidermy school in Thompson Falls. He’s had coffee at that very same coffee shop and probably hunted some of the same BLM properties I was on. It’s really amazing how small the world can be when start talking to people,” laughed Nathan.

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