Richard Pierce

Richard Pierce has harvest 53 turkeys in more than two decades of turkey hunting. Last year, he got his best bird yet. It placed 22nd all-time in the state's nontypical category.

Richard Pierce’s interest in hunting all began on a chance encounter over 22 years ago.

“I was deer hunting, and I saw a group of turkeys come through the food plot,” he said.

It might not seem like the kind of thing that would give a man an epiphany, but it did.

“I had never turkey hunted before and decided I was going to try it the next spring,” Pierce said.

It wasn’t long before Pierce bought a call and was watching every turkey hunting video he could find and reading every turkey hunting book he could flip through. The work and practice quickly paid off.

“I went hunting opening day and killed my first turkey within 20 minutes of being there,” Pierce said. “[I] was hooked for life.”

There’s a lot of work and patience involved in turkey hunting. The call itself is more nuanced than, say, duck. Pierce said the call and having to draw a turkey close to the hunter are the biggest differences between hunting turkey and other wildlife, like deer. The calls are mainly of two varieties: diaphragm calls and friction calls. The Fulton native has practiced them all.

“I about drive my family crazy with my turkey calls,” Pierce said. “[I] get told to either shut the door or go outside.”

Then there’s the actual hunt. That can be different, too.

“Scouting is about the same and so is preparation,” Pierce explained. “The biggest difference is you just can’t find a turkey running loose. You can go just about anywhere and hunt a deer. Plus, with deer hunting, you’re hunting with a high-power rifle, and you can kill one 300-400 yards out. With turkey hunting, you’re using a shotgun. You’ve got to call them in close, to around 30 to 40 yards.”

Over 22 years, Pierce has harvested 53 turkeys, all from Northeast Mississippi. Last year, he harvested his best bird yet: According to the state biologist, it scored as the No. 22 ranked bird in state history in the nontypical category.

Pierce experiences a feeling with turkey hunting that he doesn’t with any other type of hunt.

“It’s an adrenaline rush. There’s nothing like it. It gets my heart racing and my hands shaking,” he said.

That feeling keeps Pierce returning to the hunt year after year.

abby.loden@journalinc.com

Twitter: @abbyloden

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