Days GON By April 2011

Realtree guys share hunting memories of Dale Earhhardt; World Champ turkey caller Benny Briggs.

Brad Gill | April 3, 2011

Dale Earnhardt smiles after rolling this turkey while hunting with the Realtree gang. Dale shot the Troup County gobbler in April 2000. Pictured with Dale were the guys from Realtree (from left) Michael Waddell, David Blanton and Glenn Garner.

Each month we turn back the clock to see what was being reported in the pages of GON, both 20 and 10 years ago. Here’s what was happening.

20 Years Ago: April 1991

Georgia’s Best Bass Lakes: Using WRD Fisheries electroshocking data, GON ranked the best bass lakes in Georgia. We created charts so anglers could figure out where they may want to focus their fishing efforts. Below is some of the information. The top-5 lakes in several categories are listed below, beginning with No. 1.

Georgia’s Top Bass Lake (Based on All Black Bass Species): Eufaula, High Falls, West Point, Bartletts Ferry and Blackshear.

Lakes With The Most Fish: West Point, Eufaula, High Falls, Chatuge and Tobesofkee.

Best Largemouth Lakes: Bartletts Ferry, Blackshear, Jackson, Hartwell and Sinclair.

Best Spotted Bass Lake: Bartletts Ferry, West Point, Carters, Burton and Lanier.

Forget 15-Dove-a-Day Limit: It was expected that DNR’s Game Management section was going to recommend a 15-dove-per-day limit for hunters. The idea didn’t float, at least not 20 years ago. Hunters spoke, and what they said was that a dozen doves was enough.

Game Management held a series of 11 public meetings across the state, and the consensus was that hunters preferred 12 birds as the limit. A mail survey was done, and 56 percent of hunters preferred a dozen birds. Game Management was expected to strongly recommend the increased limit but bagged the idea.

The bag limit on doves was increased to 15 per day in 2008.

10 Years Ago: April 2001

Memories of Dale: Never before did so many grown men cry. When the networks broke the news that Dale Earnhardt didn’t finish the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, NASCAR racing would never be the same.

Bill Jordan and his gang at Realtree shared plenty of hunting memories with Dale, and they were gracious enough to share some of their hunting-related memories of Dale with GON readers 10 years ago.

Although several hunt stories were shared in the April 2001 issue, here’s a story that Realtree’s Michael Waddell shared about a turkey hunt with Dale.

“Getting a turkey hunt or a deer hunt on video is already a huge challenge, but getting a video of Dale Earnhardt killing a deer or turkey had to be the ultimate challenge. If Dale went hunting with the Realtree guys, he was there to hunt, not make a pretty video.

“One thing I was impressed with about Dale overall was that he took his hunting serious,” said Michael, who had the pleasure and challenge of trying to video Dale numerous times with the Realtree cameras.

“He was a really good hunter, a really good woodsman, but that made it hard to get Dale on video. Several years we tried to get Dale on video killing a turkey, and it seemed like every year something went wrong. We never did get a good video of Dale killing a turkey. Usually he’d kill the turkey off-camera, and almost every time it was because Dale was such a good hunter.

“A particular hunt that really stands out, we were on a little logging road and we had a turkey gobbling really good. This time I was calling, and Dale was up in front of the camera which was getting a nice over-the-shoulder shot. This bird was gobbling, and he was definitely coming up this logging road, but he wasn’t committing suicide. Finally, the bird had hung up. He gobbled and gobbled.

“Eventually you could hear that bird spitting and drumming right over a little ridge. Dale was smart enough to know that if he could get to the top of that ridge and shoot down that hill he could kill the turkey. Now I want Dale to kill the turkey, but I also want to get it on video, and I just know in my mind that turkey is gonna come to us on that logging road because it’s thick on both side, and there’s open hardwoods behind us.

“Well I’ll be John Browned if Dale didn’t get on his belly and start crawling up the logging road toward that turkey. He got to the top of that ridge, and he eased up and nailed that turkey. He  killed that turkey before it ever got over the ridge to the camera. And I remember he turned around and looked at us and said, ‘Sorry guys.’

“That happened time after time, and the thing that really impressed me about it was that I really appreciated Dale for the hunter he was. He knew how he could bust that turkey, and he did it. And that’s just what kind of competitor he was, and it impressed me about his hunting abilities.”

Benny Briggs Wins World Championship: Turkey caller Benny Briggs, of Harlem, was top caller in the senior division of the 2001 World Championship Turkey Calling Contest. Benny won $5,000 and a shotgun for winning the World.

The 2001 World Turkey Calling Champion Benny Briggs called in this Burke County tom for Lauren Kilgore shortly after winning the world title.

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