Aiming for turkey trifecta
HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. — Right away, you know Pat Kalmerton isn’t from these parts. Sure, he’s turkey hunting in North Mississippi, but the accent gives him away.
Plus, how many folks from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, come to Marshall County, Mississippi, for a few days of turkey hunting, especially when you consider this wasn’t just any turkey hunt?
Kalmerton, 34, was on a recent quest to do something few hunters have accomplished. He came at the invitation of farmer Bob Woods and his son, Robert, to kill Mississippi’s season bag limits of three gobblers in less than a week using a compound, crossbow and shotgun.
Or what Kalmerton, using a betting term, calls a turkey hunting trifecta.
So it was on a recent day that Kalmerton was in the woods and fields of the Woodses’ 3,500-acre farm, accompanied by Robert Woods, Rod Hulsey and Chris Jennings.
Robert, 27, who played football on a couple of state championship teams for coach Hugh Freeze at Briarcrest Christian in Memphis, was the group’s leader. Jennings is Memphis-based Ducks Unlimited’s communications coordinator. Hulsey is a local millworker and longtime friend of the Woods family.
It was through the love of aviation that Kalmerton and Robert Woods became friends, which led to annual trips to the Woods farm in pursuit of deer and turkey and fishing for crappie, bass and catfish.
They met at an air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, several years ago. Robert was studying commercial aviation in college before a hunting accident led him back to working alongside his father on a farm that has been in the family for more than 100 years.
Kalmerton is co-owner with his dad, Roy, and brother Jerrad, of Wolf Pack Adventures (wolfpackadventures.com), specializing in Lake Michigan trout and salmon fishing out of the port of Sheboygan.
It was on a salmon fishing trip on Lake Michigan that Woods and his dad told Kalmerton that he needed to come hunt in Mississippi. On his initial trip to the Woods farm Kalmerton’s dad, Roy, a retired game warden, killed his first whitetail deer, a good-size buck.
Thus was born a friendship that led to this year’s hunt.
“Dad and I used to go up there (Oshkosh) every year before I started farming,” Woods said. “We met Pat and struck up a friendship. It’s hard to forget Pat.”
By that, Woods means Kalmerton’s outgoing personality.
“Hey, I love what I do,” Kalmerton said. “I’m living my dream.”
By age 12, Kalmerton was working as first mate on charter boats; by 20, he’d earned his U.S. Coast Guard captain’s license. Now, he not only guides anglers on Lake Michigan, but also helps design and does promotional work for many of the nation’s top fishing and hunting products, including Frabill allweather gear.
On this day the group was hunting in the Marianna area south of Red Banks, Mississippi, on land that Woods’ greatgreat-grandfather first cleared and farmed.
Normally, turkeys have been plentiful, but things have changed in 2015, according to Robert, who believes an ice storm that struck the area in March greatly affected this year’s hunting. He is also among a growing number of Mississippi turkey hunters wanting a zoned season.
“Our season is early as it is (March 14-May 1), but the ice storm put everything about three weeks behind,” Woods said. “The last weekend of the season will probably be where it needs to be. I truly believe we should have a split season (starting earlier in the south and later in the north) divided by U.S. 82.”
So does Hulsey, who started turkey hunting about four years ago.
“These birds have been tough (to kill) this year,” Hulsey said. “Turkey hunting thrills me like nothing I have ever done before. I would love to see the season start for us the first of April and end in May.”
While he didn’t fulfill his quest for a trifecta (he missed a big gobbler with a shotgun) Kalmerton hopes to try again in 2016, probably on the Woodses’ farm.
“We had two birds that were working,” he said of this year’s hunt. “I thought we were going to double up. There were birds running all over the place. But you know what? I had a great time and I’ll be back.”
That’s Wisconsin slang for “Y’all come back.”
In the end, Kalmerton practices what he preaches. His company’s motto is “Respect the elder. Teach the young. Play when you can. Hunt when you must.”
Sounds like what somebody from North Mississippi would say, right?
Pat Kalmerton (left) of Sheboygan, Wis., went on a turkey hunt recently hosted by Robert Woods of Holly Springs, Miss., on family land in Marshall County, Miss.