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Hunter Joins Short List of NWTF U.S. Super Slam Members with his Benelli Shotgun

Daren Cole Blue Heron Communications (405) 364-3433 [email protected] | June 3, 2021

ACCOKEEK, Md. (May 26, 2021) – Travis Thompson joined an elite and short list of turkey hunters who have completed the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) U.S. Super Slam when he recently took a tom in his 49th state. The U.S. Super Slam consists of a hunter taking any wild turkey subspecies in every state except Alaska.


Hailing from rural Pennsylvania, Thompson could not purchase a hunting license or tags until he turned 12 years old. Although unable to hunt during his youngest years, Thompson accompanied his father into the field to learn the craft and art of deceiving a wary gobbler. Once he reached the legal age, he would hit the woods with his father before school and holds the memory of shooting his first bird as one of his favorites.


“I started at a young age, always with my dad,” said Thompson. “That first one was very special for me. I think I shot it 10 days into the season. I was 12 and getting up early every day. We were really working for it, and it didn’t come easy. At the time, I didn’t realize what that turkey would mean to me and the passion it would ignite in me.”


Just about every turkey hunter has regaled their friends with tales of woe from frustrating outings, where they are left with nothing but an empty game bag and the exasperated questioning of one’s self and their current strategy. With the built-in disadvantages innate to turkey hunting, one would seemingly only bring tragedy and assured disappointment by setting the goal of achieving the U.S. Super Slam.


“I have hunted big game all over, but there is something about turkey hunting; sitting in the dark and hearing that gobble really jolts the body” said Thompson. “I hunt archery a lot for deer back home, where you get in a stand and wait for something to come by. With turkey hunting you are reversing nature. You are trying to get that gobbler to come to you – the hen. It’s a lot more interactions with the vocalization. It’s a challenge to try and get them to come to you.”


To achieve the U.S. Super Slam, the NWTF only requires hunters to take one of the four wild turkey species, but Thompson upped the difficulty by only targeting mature birds. While dedicating a great amount of time for research, scouting and hunting – not to mention funding such an endeavor – is challenging enough, the state of Nevada proved to be especially difficult to bag a bird. The handful of non-resident tags allotted each year are draw tags, which can take a lifetime of prayers to have your name drawn.


But, at times, serendipity does step in and lend a helping hand. Thompson’s came via social media when a follower reached out to him to let him know about a conservation group offering up a Nevada turkey tag at a fundraising event. While his budget wasn’t enough for his first foray into the auction house, he was determined that money would not hold him back on a second try. With tag in hand, he headed to Las Vegas. Clad in a canvas sweatshirt and toting his shotgun case and decoys, Thompson clashed against the incoming tourists looking to get lucky under the bright Las Vegas lights.


Thompson’s blessings continued with the hunter taking a tom on public land on his first day of hunting. With the toughest tag punched, Thompson continued to check off states, but not without some serious reflection on his journey.


If one hunts long enough, one will undoubtably run into lean times where echoes of gobbles across a draw are replaced by the quiet doldrums in silent woods. The hunter’s mind and heart, usually full of passion and vigor and now heavy with self-doubt, begin to question the motives and test the hunter’s resolve.


“There were times I thought about why am I doing this,” said Thompson. “Why do I want to go to Mississippi and sit in a bug-infested swamp? You know, going through some of those days where you don’t hear a single gobble. I could be back home hunting turkeys. There were times you think about giving up.”


Most hunters are cut from the same cloth of self-reliance and headstrong determination. Thompson’s life had been spent setting goals and diligently working to complete them to gain a sense of accomplishment few others can share. This particular goal would fall just as the others in his life with a good dose of fortitude and resilience.


Thompson came into the start of 2021 lacking birds in Mississippi, Delaware, Arizona and Arkansas. As birds continued to fall to his Benelli SuperNova 12-gauge pump shotgun, Thompson’s eye turned to The Natural State for his swan song and the culmination of eight years in his quest to join a handful of hunters who finished the U.S. Super Slam.


Thompson’s love of turkey hunting started as a boy sitting between his daddy’s knees at the base of a tree. Always his go-to hunting buddy, his dad served as a mentor for striving to be the best. As the shot rang out in the Arkansas woods leaving a flurry of feathers from a flopping turkey, Thompson’s thoughts were of his father.


“From my first turkey to my 49th, my dad has always been my best hunting buddy,” said Thompson. “My first call after the shooting the final slam bird was to my dad. I kind of broke down remembering where I started with him and to reach the pinnacle of finishing the slam was special. I teared up and just kind of sat there for an hour with flashes of memories coming from my hunts. It was surreal.”


Throughout his journey, Thompson always had his trusty Benelli SuperNova by his side.


“When I was younger, I had some guns fail to fire,” said Thompson. “I had some buddies that were into waterfowl hunting and they always had Benelli shotguns. I shot some and loved how they fit and they patterned very well. I have spent a lot of money and dedicated lots of time to hunt all those turkeys. I can’t have the risk of going out and having issues with my shotgun. It’s never let me down.”


Thompson is in the process of completing his turkey record forms for the NWTF. Once he sends in all the forms for all 49 birds, the NWTF record keepers will confirm the info before sending him the official certificate recognizing him for completing the U.S. Turkey Super Slam.


Not to ever stay complacent, Thompson is 23 states shy of another U.S. Super Slam and has his eyes on Mexico to hunt for the Royal Slam.


“Down the road I would like to shoot an ocellated turkey down in the Yucatan as well,” said Thompson. “That would give me my World Slam. There’s the Canadian Slam and a Mexican Slam. There’s also turkeys in New Zealand so my goal is to essentially shoot a turkey everywhere a turkey exists.”


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