District Attorney Polishes Off Wild Turkey Grand Slam

If I were to begin this column telling my readers how much I love to turkey hunt, you’d
likely to be shaking your head and mumbling.. “there he goes again”. Okay, so turkey hunting is my absolutely favorite outdoor pursuit and forgive me if I mention my passion again.

Actually my purpose in writing this column focuses on someone else. District Attorney for Lincoln and Union Parishes, John Belton is the focus for this column, but first you’ll have to indulge me just a bit.

I started my turkey hunting career in 1992 when I downed my first wild turkey gobbler.
Something happened to me that day that totally redirected my interest in things to do outdoors. I fell for the sport of hunting wild turkeys like a bluegill for a cricket and for the next 25 years, I lived for spring and the opportunity to be in the woods somewhere to listen for the gobble of a wild turkey on the roost and take off through the woods to be setting up 100 yards from his roost tree before he flew down.

Facing reality, my birthdays seemed to occur more frequently than when I was younger and advancing age along with creaky joints have prevented me from taking off through the woods at daylight to be there when the gobbler flew down. I haven’t been able to hunt turkeys for the past few seasons but I have a storehouse of special exciting memories to polish off and recall special times and special gobblers I have run across over that quarter century of chasing them.

Among my most favorite memories is one late afternoon among the tumble weeds on a prairie in South Dakota when a long bearded Merriam’s gobbler stopped just long enough before flying up to roost to allow me to draw a bead on his warty neck, squeeze the trigger as I ran out to claim a special bird. Why was this one so special? It was the fourth in the sub-species of wild turkeys I had taken to lay claim to a coveted feat.

With him I had completed the wild turkey Grand Slam.

This brings me to my purpose in sharing today. I received a note from District Attorney John Belton last week sharing with me a photo of a magnificent Merriam’s gobbler he recently took, a bird that was the final step in his completing his wild turkey Grand Slam. I had to talk with him to hear his story which was every bit as exciting to him as mine was to me.

“I started out with my first of four gobblers that I hoped would ultimately result in my
completing a Grand Slam. I got a Rio Grande gobbler on a hunt in Texas,” Belton said.
“Then I had the chance to travel to south Florida where I was successful in downing a big Osceola. Next, I hunt property I own in Caldwell Parish and got my Eastern and this left just one more to go,” he said.

Last week, it all fell into place when Belton, sensing the completion of his mission was in sight, took advantage of traveling to Nebraska when a big Merriam’s gobbler fell to his gun.

Of these four gobbler Belton brought down, which one in his opinion gave him the most trouble?
“The toughest to hunt to me are those right here at home. Nothing is harder to fool than an Eastern gobbler partly because the other three species usually hang out in more open country where you might see one 300 yards while the Eastern makes its home in piney woods with thickets that are tough to see. Before I finally got my Eastern, I called a bird in within shotgun range but there was so much brush I couldn’t get a shot,” he said.

His job as District Attorney is important and involves his being in charge of and
controlling every criminal prosecution in his district. Should there be a brief lull in the
courtroom, I can imagine his mind for a brief moment drifting back to mental images of those four special gobblers that occupy a special niche in his memory.


CANEY LAKE – Major League Fishing is going on this week with the big guns starting
to catch some bass in the 7 to 8 pound range on a variety of lures from soft plastics to jerk baits, crank baits and tail spinners. Flipping around the pads is paying off nicely. Some crappie are still spawning in the shallows with some good ones caught on shiners and jigs while post-spawn fish have moved back. The bream are moving to the beds with quite a few beginning to show up. No report on catfish. For information contact Caney Lake Landing at 259-6649, Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
BLACK BAYOU – Bream are on the beds and hitting worms and crickets. Crappie are
good fishing around the trees and brush. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707 for latest information.
BUSSEY BRAKE – Big bass are continuing to come in and this weekend should be
interesting as the Major League Fishing team will be here Saturday to try their luck.
Good bet some big ones will be caught. Some crappie are still spawning while some have moved back out. Bream are starting to bed in the shallows. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole at 323-8707.
OUACHITA RIVER – The water is high. No fishing reports this week. For latest
information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – Bass fishing has been good with some fish to 7 pounds caught
around the banks early on crank baits and soft plastics later off the banks. Crappie fishing continues to be good as some of the fish are still spawning while some are spawned out and moved deeper. Bream are spawning and hitting crickets or night crawlers. Catfish continue to be caught fishing cold worms and night crawlers off the banks. For latest information, call Anderson Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – The bream bite is on as they have moved to shallow spawning
areas and are hitting crickets. A good many crappie are being caught around the spillway on shiners. Bass fishing has been good this week, fishing shallow water with soft plastics. No report on catfish just yet. For latest information, call Kel’s Cove at 927-2264 or Terzia Tackle at 278-4498.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Catfishing is good. Crappie are in and out of the shallows as
some have already spawned. Bream are moving in to spawn. No report on bass. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.
LAKE YUCATAN – The water is falling but still a bit high for good fishing. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.

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