MIKE GILES: Hunting's 'First Lady' Brenda Valentine talks turkey on gaining outdoors expertise

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Brenda Valentine displays a trophy double bearded gobbler.

 

Known as the “First Lady of Hunting," Brenda Valentine has hunted and taken almost every big game species in North America as well as many African species and has appeared on many television shows and conducted seminars. She is such a talented personality who has been a spokesperson for Bass Pro, Mossy Oak and the National Wild Turkey Federation for many years now so she knows a thing or two about turkey hunting.

“I try to always be positive and promote our great outdoors opportunities for everybody,” Valentine said. But when she first started hunting, there weren’t enough turkeys to have a season.

When they finally got enough turkeys to hunt, Valentine wanted to get in on that action, too.

“I didn’t know how to hunt turkeys but figured that I could learn so I went out and bought a box call,” Valentine said. “It had a little piece of paper that said yelp three times and wait 20 minutes so that’s just what I did. I sat down and yelped and waited 20 minutes and it got to be like taking medicine and it didn’t work too well for me at first.”

A natural born country girl and hunter, Valentine knew the ways of the woods and where to find the turkeys, so she devised a plan.

“I knew I was deadly with a bow, so I found some dustbowls where the turkeys were dusting on an old logging road and I climbed up high in a tree and waited for them,” Valentine said. “I hunted with a whitetail hunter’s mentality and when they came walking underneath my stand I just shot straight down, and it went through the turkey and pinned it to the ground. It might have been unconventional, but it worked for me.”

Later on, Valentine got a better shotgun and became proficient with it and learned to call turkeys and she quickly mastered that skill.

“I try to always be positive and promote our great outdoors opportunities for everybody,” Valentine said. “But when I first started turkey hunting nobody around here knew how to turkey hunt or what to do. There probably weren’t two turkey hunters in the entire county.”

“I didn’t know the basics at first, but I just grew into it,” Valentine said. “As the turkey population increased so did my experience as I learned on my own through trial and error. We didn’t have any teaching books on the subject and certainly no television shows or internet. We had to get it on our own.”

“We thought only really good callers could call a turkey, but we found out that you don’t have to be an expert caller to call a turkey in,” Valentine said. “Every time I went out, I learned something new. You’re going to need woodsmanship skills, knowledge and determination, if you want to be a successful turkey hunter.”

“Knowing the terrain, landmarks and lay of the land is first and foremost,” she said. “If I’m hunting an area, I’m familiar with, then I want to know where they roost. I’ll owl hoot a time or two if I don’t hear one gobble early but if they’re there you’ll usually hear one in a few minutes at dawn. If not, there’s probably not one there so I’ll move on to another spot.”

If she hears a gobbler, she’ll set up quickly and call to him.

Favorite calls

“I like to carry two box calls with me, a short single sided box and a two-sided box as a backup,” Valentine said. I always carry some mouth calls, but they’re not my favorite calls.”

“I use a wing bone a lot and it comes fairly easy to me although it is hard for some people,” she said. “It sounds different than most other calls and most of the time I’ll get a response. When I go different places, I’ll also carry a few coffee stirs with me and teach kids how to use them, too.”

MIKE GILES: Hunting's 'First Lady' Brenda Valentine talks turkey on gaining outdoors expertise

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Brenda Valentine and husband, Barney, make a good turkey hunting team.

 

The Gift

Valentine’s father, David Johnson, was the biggest mentor and influence on her “outdoors life” and what he taught her during her formative years shaped the person she became and actually led her to a career that few women, or men could have imagined.

“My dad died during turkey season one year and I had several stressful days,” Valentine said. “On the eve of the burial you just feel worn out. Too many people, flowers and other details to deal with will leave you washed out.”

After the funeral Valentine’s husband, Barney, asked her a question that set the stage for her recovery.

“What are you going to do now,” Barney asked?

“I’m going to the woods,” she said. Valentine did exactly that.

“I just walked over the woods reflecting and thinking about my life with dad,” Valentine said. “After a while a turkey gobbled way off. Then it kept getting closer. I called and he gobbled, and it went back and forth for a while.”

They say if you can ever get a gobbler to gobble in the afternoon he’ll come to your call because he’s by himself and needs some female company. Finding one like that is the hard part and usually hard to do.

“I kept calling and it wasn’t long before he marched right up to me and I shot him,” Valentine said. “It was like a revelation – The Gift. It was kind of like my dad was saying to me ‘everything is going to be all right.’ That turkey was bound and determined to come up to me and it really made my day.”

If you’re looking for that big gobbler this year, then take a few tips from Valentine and get outdoors and go hunting. The opportunities are limitless.

Call Mike Giles at 601-917-3898 or email mikegiles18@comast.net.

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