Hunting turkeys – with 49 states in mind

First Posted: 6/9/2014

Tony Hudak continued his pursuit of a long-term goal and enjoyed a special one-time accomplishment as a turkey hunter this spring.

A professional turkey hunting guide and caller from Noxen, Hudak knocked more than half the remaining states off his list as he closes in on the goal of harvesting a turkey from every state in the United States. Hudak took five off that list this spring and is now at 45 of 49 states (there are no turkeys in Alaska).

The 45th state on the list turned into a special hunt when Hudak bagged the largest turkey of his career, a 25.2-pound, 5-year-old gobbler in Buffalo County, Wisconsin.

“The Midwest states – Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, in particular – are noted for their heavyweight birds, as well as their big game … mainly because of their great habitat out there,” said Hudak, who headed into Wisconsin after a successful hunt in Minnesota. “Soybeans, corn, alfalfa, that’s what the game live off of so they tend to grow them bigger in those areas.

“But, it’s not something you can anticipate because it does not always happen. I just got lucky and got onto a bird that was an older age and had better body structure.”

Hudak harvested turkeys in Tennessee and Arkansas in April. He then added Rhode Island to the list May 2 in his third attempt in the state. That put him at 43 states before the Minnesota and Wisconsin trip later in the month.

Hudak is a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation. He is trying to become the fifth hunter and second from Pennsylvania to have the accomplishment of harvesting a gobbler in every state officially registered with the NWTF.

After getting serious about the pursuit when he had half the states about 10 years ago, Hudak has picked away at the list. He has tentative plans for the next steps, beginning next fall, but those can change.

West Virginia, where he was unsuccessful in an earlier attempt, and Indiana are planned for fall. Hawaii and Kentucky are on the list for next spring.

“That’s what I intend to do,” Hudak said. “But things change. A lot of that is going to depend on property access in some of the states I’m looking at. I hunt primarily public land. I also talk to the biologists a lot, and if they feel that it is not a good year for me to be in those areas, I hold off.

“But, as of right now, tentatively, that’s what I plan to do.”

Hudak is aware that even if he makes all four of those trips, he could come up empty and have to hit the road again to complete the task.

“It happens every year,” Hudak said. “I was to Rhode Island three times and there were probably 10 or 12 other states that I’ve been to two or three times before I got it done.”

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