Georgia Mentor Competition: Tony Rittenhouse
Tony Rittenhouse: I started hunting with my dad when I was 3 years old. Hunting has always been a family tradition in our family. I have been fortunate enough to hunt in several other states and hunt many different types of game.
LaGary Jackson: “I’m 58 years old, and one of my legs has been amputated, so I hunt from a wheelchair. I have been on a few wheelchair hunts for deer, but this is my first time trying to hunt turkey. I enjoy hunting and the outdoors and hope I can learn how to turkey hunt.
By Tony Rittenhouse
Since LaGary was new to turkey hunting, he had lots of questions. I explained to him the different signs that turkeys leave and also explained to him turkey biology.
We were hunting the Dalton Utilities Wheelchair Hunt the weekend of March 23-24. We arrived way before daylight and got everything set up. When daylight finally arrived, we did not hear a single gobble. After sitting and calling for three hours, I had a hen answer me. It took about 15 minutes of mocking her every call, and she finally showed up, but she was alone.
After she left, I called every few minutes but nothing answered.
I told LaGary I like to run-and-gun, where I would go to the highest points and call to try and strike a gobbler and then set up on him. So, that is what we were going to try. The only problem is he is in a wheelchair. However, the Dalton Utilities staff said we could set up on the secondary roads and hunt the roadways.
We started down the main road that separated our assigned hunting areas. We could hunt everything on the right hand side of the road and nothing on the left. The first place I stopped, I got out and hit the call and one gobbled 75 yards away on the wrong side of the road. We pulled down the main road 100 yards into a secondary road on our side, got out and went down the road 25 yards. LaGary threw a piece of camo netting over his wheelchair, and I backed up 20 yards behind him, hit the call, and he answered again. He had already crossed the main road and was on our side. After a short 10 minutes of calling and 15 gobbles later, he pulled the trigger on his first bird.
Why Is Mentoring Is Important To Me
Hunting has always been a family tradition in my family. I remember going on deer hunts with my entire family when I was growing up. My grandfather, grandmother, uncles, mom and dad. I can still remember the smell of bacon being fried by my grandmother.
My dad mentored me. I know he could have killed more deer if he had not taken me with him, but from the age of 3, he would take me to the woods. We would sit all day from dark to dark. It would get so cold that my bottom jaw would shake uncontrollably. He taught me everything about hunting.
When I had kids, I really messed up. I thought they would have the same passion I would about hunting, and I pushed them too hard, which made them not want to go as much. Of course I was at the stage in my hunting life that I thought I needed to kill something every time. It was more about the kill and not the hunt. I think as we mature not only as people but as hunters, our prospective changes.
First my grandparents passed away and then my uncle got health issues. Then in September 2017, my dad passed away. I never thought this day would come. I am the last person left in my family hunting.
I think about all the time and knowledge they tried to instill in me and all the lost knowledge they took with them.
As I have matured as a hunter, it is more about the hunt than the kill for me now. When I go to the woods, I think about all the great memories I had with my dad and how I would like to share those type memories with other people.
If I can pass along some of the knowledge that was given to me and make a memory that will last a lifetime with someone else, then I have done my part.
I’m looking forward to passing the hunting tradition on to as many people as I can no matter their age.