“The mission of the Wildlife Heritage Foundation of Wyoming is to create an enduring natural legacy for future generations through stewardship of all Wyoming’s wildlife.”
That mission statement is on the Wildlife Heritage Foundation of Wyoming’s website. I was familiar with their work and when an invitation to participate in their first ever “Old West Invitational Turkey Shoot” came from my pal Dave Lockman, I absolutely said “Yes.” I thoroughly believe in the work the foundation does to promote shooting sports and hunting to the next generation. It is a program that many states should follow to ensure future generations follow our tracks into the outdoors. We must be good stewards of the land and pass that along to the next generation.
Dave Lockman is involved with the Weatherby Foundation International, which provides seed money to help non profit EXPOS around the country. These Expos are a great way to recruit families and the next generation into the shooting and Hunting Sports. So the goals of the Weatherby Foundation and the WHF are very similar. I’ve long been an advocate of the EXPO concept and I first became aware of the WHF while attending an Expo in Casper, Wyoming.
The One Shot Turkey Hunt was the first annual event and I was honored to be the first bowhunter invited. So when I put the team together I asked my father and family friend Jim Wynne to join me. We were the only bowhunters at the “first shot” event, everyone else would be using a shotgun. The town of Hulett’s population is about 400 give or take a few people, and this little western town was full of good folks. The event took place near Devil’s Tower and thanks to president Teddy Roosevelt who made it our country’s first national monument. I could see Devil’s Tower each morning from where our blind was set up, what a beautiful view.
Hunter’s would have special opportunities to attend banquets, social events and other activities during the two day hunt. Highlights of the trip for me included meeting former Wyoming Governor Sullivan. The former Governor even bought my breakfast at the Ponderosa restaurant in town. He got an invite to come to West Virginia and I hope he’ll visit. I also met many local folks from the area that I enjoyed visiting with including Mr. Jim Neiman, who owns a local sawmill business and golf course. Mr. Neiman is 80 years young and acts 40. I really enjoyed talking with him. I also was honored to spend some time talking to Jack Scarlett, who has been involved with the famed One Shot Antelope Hunt in Wyoming. Turns out Fred and Henrietta Bear were friends of Mr. Scarlett’s family and Fred had been to his ranch to hunt. Mr. Scarlett and I shared some Fred Bear anecdotes and stories and I really had a great time talking with him. He was a mutual friend of Dave Lockman’s. I’ve found that just about anyone that’s a friend of Dave’s is “good people”.
My father and Jim Wynne joined me to make up our “archery team”. We stayed with Dave Lockman out at the bunk house at the Solitude Ranch. There was a bath house, cook shack with a lounge area with satellite TV, and a grill on the deck. Dave and Janet Lockman brought a special request for me… an order of Rocky Mountain Oysters. We warmed them in the microwave and enjoyed them with homemade hamburgers one day. I laughed as Jim Wynne and Pop tried this delicacy for the first time. Dave got me hooked on them many years ago in Casper, Wyoming at Poor Boys. I’ve had them in Denver, Colorado at the Buckhorn, at Cattleman’s Cut in Montana. and at Cattleman’s in the Oklahoma City Stockyards. If you have never tried them I would suggest you do so when in cowboy country. They are great when properly prepared.
Jim bought a target on the way to Hulett so that we could take some warm up shots in camp. Mid day that first day I warmed up with a few shots. I put a dandelion on the target walked back to 20 yards. As an instinctive shooter I wanted to see how my new Hoyt Vantage LTD was shooting. I had the bow set down to 52# for this hunt and was shooting Easton arrows with Muzzy 145 grain heads. I prefer a side quiver to a bow quiver and use a vintage Chuck Adams leather side quiver, circa 1992 or so. I removed an arrow from my quiver, drew the bow and when my pointer finger touched the corner of my mouth I released the arrow. I saw yellow fly everywhere as the Muzzy head shaved the dandelion in two. I shot one more arrow at the target and decided that I was ready for a turkey if the right shot presented itself. I think the guide was shocked when he didn’t see a sight on my bow.
Our guide knew the Solitude ranch and had us in birds right off opening morning. However, the old boss gobbler wouldn’t come closer. He stayed out about 40 yards. The guide had only brought a slate call and really didn’t fool with diaphragm calls or box calls. Luckily Pop had a turkey vest full of calls and decoys. He would also call in some birds during the two days. We hunted hard for the two days and called from a blind and also did a few quick set ups while doing some afternoon spot and stalks. On the second morning we were in a different set up. The birds came in but the two gobblers stayed out about 40 yards again. This time after they left I discovered the problem— an old fence line that you could not see in early light.
While the guide napped pop and I still hunted down the ridge and set up on four gobblers. Pop was working the birds when two hens ran in and left taking all four of the gobblers with them. Having hunted eastern turkey most of my life, typically you can call the hen in and she will bring the gobblers with her. In Wyoming, these merriam gobblers seemed a little easier to hunt but the hens were the problem. Several times a jealous hen would run in and take the gobblers away when she left. None of the three of us bowhunters drew a bow in the two days. We all agreed that it would have been nice to have had another day or two but the hunt ended with a big banquet Saturday night.
This was a “one shot” hunt, meaning you only get one shot. If you missed or if the turkey required a second shot you were disqualified from the competition. Scoring was based on the weight, beard length doubled, and spur length doubled. I believe about 39 birds were bagged out of aprx. 70 hunters. There were smiles every where Saturday night so I believe everyone had a great time. I was impressed when I saw companies like Remington play such a large supporting role in this hunt. They provided about 17 guns for the event and ammunition. The two youngest hunters on the team received free shotguns. A special presentation was also made to a young man who had recently lost his grandfather, who had promised to take the young man turkey hunting. His grandfather had just passed away and would not be taking the youngster hunting. When this young man was presented a gun and an opportunity to be taken hunting, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. I really appreciate companies like Remington and Weatherby who give back to try and ensure hunting is passed on to future generations.
This event wasn’t really about the “celebrities”. It was about seeing these youngsters encouraged and recognized. To me they were the real celebrities of the weekend. I appreciate all that the WHF, supporting businesses and companies, and volunteers did to make this first time event a huge success. It was a great time and if you get an invitation to support or attend this event, please do so. They are doing good things in Wyoming and I was proud to be the first archer invited. If you do go, take some warm clothes for the early Wyoming mornings, a camera for the views, and be ready to meet some fine folks.
Although a dandelion is all I had bagged in two days of hunting, my hunt was a huge success. Like Fred Bear, to me the success of a hunt isn’t always measured by the game taken. I’d been able to spend valuable time with my father bowhunting, hang out with old pals Jim Wynne, Dave and Janet Lockman, and meet a bunch of new friends. I enjoyed good food and good company and breath taking views. I’d seen a huge amount of gobblers, a coyote, countless whitetail deer, mule deer, antelope and other game. My dandelion would have to serve as my trophy until my next adventure into the Black Hills of Wyoming. I hope one day to take my son Gus there to see the sights and meet the people. He’s only three but one day soon he’ll be old enough to join me. I hope he’ll enjoy time with me as much as I enjoyed hunting with my father.
Thanks Hulett, Wyoming. I’ll be back.
It is clear that the Wildlife Heritage Foundation of Wyoming is dedicated to promoting hunting and wise use of our natural resources to the next generation. To learn more, please visit:
Special thanks to Dave and Janet Lockman, Hoyt, Muzzy, Robinson Outdoors, Easton and my other sponsors. Also, thanks to the WHF, Solitude ranch, and every one of the staff and volunteers for this event.
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Thanks for reading. Until next time, Adios and God Bless.
Frank Addington, Jr.
The Aspirin Buster