A Magnolia State turkey hunter with Meridian ties recently completed the coveted U.S. Super Slam of wild turkey hunting. Dr. Lee Britt, a Mississippi native originally from Oxford, finished his quest this season with an Eastern wild turkey in the state of New York.
In order to complete the National Wild Turkey Federation’s U.S. Super Slam, a hunter must successfully kill a wild turkey in each of 49 states, which includes all states within the lower 48 as well as Hawaii (the state of Alaska does not have a turkey season).
Britt now joins a short and impressive list; as with the completion of the 2022 turkey season only 16 individuals have both completed and registered their Super Slams. Having traveled to turkey hunt, I am awed by the thought of what it takes to successfully complete what many consider the ultimate challenge in the pursuit of the wild turkey.
As you may imagine, each state presents a different set of challenges and also offers a unique adventure with the changes in habitat and terrain alone. Add in the varying regulations state by state and the logistics of travel, lodging, meals, etc., and you begin to realize the enormity of what is involved in completing the Super Slam.
Talking with Dr. Britt, it quickly became clear to me how he was able to achieve his success in what I would consider a short time frame. He has a passion for hunting turkeys that was immediately clear and the humble spirit of a turkey hunter that I would love to share a tree with someday.
“We’ve had some crazy adventures with these turkeys,” he said, adding, “It was quite the journey.” Britt, who grew up turkey hunting with his grandfather and uncle inside the levee around Catfish Point in the Mississippi Delta, became what he describes as a “regular” turkey hunter in 1995.
His first turkey out of state was in Illinois and came around 2000 during his last couple of years in medical school at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in Jackson. From there, his hunting in other states began to expand. “I went to Kentucky for residency and started hunting there and continued to hunt in Illinois on a regular basis,” he explained.
Britt, who now lives and practices emergency medicine in Franklin, TN, completed his first Grand Slam (a single-season Slam) in 2007 with a trip to Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, and Illinois after successfully taking his Osceola in Florida. However, at that time, he had yet to consider the quest for the Super Slam.
After finishing his residency in Kentucky, he moved back to Mississippi and began practicing in Tupelo where he also reunited with a group of friends from medical school who also shared a passion for turkey hunting. The group began an annual trip to Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska after the close of the Mississippi season and each year they expanded the hunt to include other bordering states.
Dr. Britt says that after several years of making the annual trip, he began to seriously ponder the notion of the Super Slam when good friend and outfitter Jeff Budz completed the Slam in 2015. At that point, he started branching out on solo hunts each year in his pursuit.
His quest, which was completed this season in the Empire State with a shotgun (although he has also successfully taken turkeys in multiple states with a bow), was done, for the most part, on a DIY basis by, in Britt’s words, “knocking on doors and hunting public land.” Britt explained that he did hire an outfitter in Wyoming and Montana, however both of those hunts were self-guided. “I had a lot of help from friends and did a lot of research,” he added.
Along the way, he witnessed some crazy events in the turkey woods, events that included watching a gobbler get struck by a rattlesnake as well as having an eagle swoop in and abduct a gobbler that he was hunting. The gobbler struggled with the raptor and broke free, landing just in front of the waiting hunter. At that point, Britt let the longbeard walk away, figuring he deserved it, having narrowly escaped death from the eagle’s talons.
When I asked what his next challenge would be, the humble hunter explained that he wanted to revisit many of the states to hunt and reconnect with the great friends that he made along the way. He also explained that he wanted to repay the many friends that helped him in his quest by helping them achieve theirs. I can think of no better way to “pay it forward” as a turkey hunter.
As I mentioned, Dr. Britt has Meridian ties. His wife, Anne Crowson Britt, grew up in Meridian and is the daughter of Dr. Thomas Crowson and the late Judy Crowson. The Crowson family holds a special place in our hearts as both friends and former neighbors.
In talking with Anne about Lee’s Super Slam, she reminded me that her mom “would have been Lee’s greatest cheerleader as she shared the desire to achieve far-fetched goals.” Judy, in fact, not only shared that desire, but she made it happen herself when she became the first Mississippian to join the Seven Continents Club by completing a marathon on each continent.
Until next time, here’s to dreaming about far-fetched goals, here’s to the quest to achieve them, and here’s to “paying it forward” to all those that help along the way.
Email outdoors columnist Brad Dye at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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