Award-winning conservationist, wildlife journalist and Texas Fish & Game Editor-In-Chief Chester Moore has begun an epic quest to seek out America’s wild turkey.
Beginning March 1 he began a journey to get the “Grand Slam” (Rio Grande, Eastern, Merriam’s and Oceola) all by the end of May but with a camera.
“I have a couple of turkey hunts planned here in Texas and one in New York but this is different. This goal is to document all four main varieties of turkeys in America and show the conservation challenges they face as well as just how dang hard it is for a hunter to get the Grand Slam,” Moore said.
His first outing yielded a turkey sighting but it was too far away for a good photo.
“I want good shots. It has to be within shotgun range and range of my 400 mm lens to get a quality magazine level photo to count,” he said.
The concept was born while conducting research on eastern turkeys and how because of habitat degradation, poaching and other factors their numbers fell to nothing in East Texas by the time he was born.
“I was born in 1973 and that is the year the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded. There were essentially no turkeys in East Texas to speak of then. That organization along with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department have worked hard to restore birds there and I think the future is bright but people have to see the challenges these birds face. That’s why I’m hitting the woods with a camera more than a shotgun this spring,” Moore said.
“I believe that as turkeys go so does the health of our forest. There is no better indicator of healthy forests than the presence of wild turkeys.”
Moore is journaling every detail of making this happen and will release his notes in a special format once the quest is over. These include everything from phone calls to biologists in Merriam’s country to mapping out key locations to photograph the elusive oceola.
“This is an extreme challenge and it’s even greater than I expected once I came up with this idea. I have a heart for wild turkeys and I believe this quest and all of the media that comes out of it will make hunters and perhaps even non hunters appreciate these great birds even more and support conservation measures that put more of them in the woods,” he said.
Keep up with Chester’s quest at fishgame.com and on his radio program “Moore Outdoors” on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI 6-7 p.m. Fridays.