VICKSBURG, Mississippi — The gentle glow of an iPhone breaks the near darkness of a hunting blind at dusk as Wyatt Turner texts his grandfather, James Wyatt, to see if he's ready to take it in. They've been at it since 2:30 that afternoon, and they've only seen about a dozen deer — what they call a bad day.
"We see about 30 deer on a normal day, but never when we're trying to impress somebody," James Wyatt said. "We've seen 80 out here before."
Though they're generations apart, 14yearold Turner hunts daily with his grandfather on his land in northern Warren County during hunting season. When he's out of school for the holiday break he'll wake up at 4:30 each morning so that he can squeeze in an extra hunt.
"I just like it," Turner said. "That's all I want to do."
Turner has been hunting since he was seven years old and he killed his first deer, which he wasn't proud of because it wasn't very big, he said.
"But my second one was, it was an eight point," he said.
Turner has now been hunting for seven years — technically half his life — and regularly passes on deer if they're not exactly what he's looking for. The first time he passed on an eight point was his best hunting experience so far, he said.
"I always used to shoot them as soon as I saw them, then I started passing them up because we really didn't need the meat," he said. "That's hunting, not killing."
Now that he's a seasoned hunter, Turner looks for the "right" deer instead of just any deer. The "right" one has got to have good size, he said, but there's something else that's inexplicable, he said. It's more about what you feel when you see it.
"You start shaking," Turner said. "You just know when you know."
Turner has become as much an observer as a hunter. He can watch them for hours without ever taking a shot.
"I'll just sit back and enjoy it," he said. "They're so pretty and it's just nature and you're right in the middle watching them."
This developed over time into recording his hunting trips to play back later for himself and friends. He used the first video recorder available to him which, as an average teenager, was his phone. He saved money and eventually bought a new camera, which he uses to record deer when he's just watching, and sometimes his own voice when the "right" one comes along.
Turner enjoys watching the videos himself, but likes sharing them with others even more.
"Some people can't go out there and go hunting and they just smile when they watch it," he said. "And I can go back and show people I wasn't making stuff up," he added, laughing.
Time spent in the woods has fine-tuned more than Turner's filmmaking skills, though. He's taught himself over time how to tell the difference between the footsteps of squirrels, raccoons, and deer without ever seeing them, and can even tell the difference between a buck and a doe based off the grunts they make. Even though he is a self-taught woodsman in some respects, he gets it honestly.
"Everybody says I get it from my pawpaw and his dad," Turner said.
His grandfather, James Wyatt, educated him as a woodsman and taught him many tips and tricks along the way.
His grandfather taught him how to spot turkeys by making a hooting call like an owl, and Turner swears he called up a fox once by making a high-pitched sound like a dying mouse.
"I don't know why it works, I'm not an expert," Turner said. "I just know it works."
Hunting has been the bond between Turner and his grandfather for years, and although friends come and go, family is always there, he said.
"He's like a friend to me. A lot of kids don't have the kind of relationship with their pawpaw like I do," he said.
Turner is a student in Scholastic Academy and makes good grades; he was exempt from all of his testing last week, which allowed for more hunting trips with his grandfather. Nevertheless, he finds his true talent to be in the woods.
"School's hard, hunting isn't," he said.
He doesn't watch much television, but when he does, he's watching hunting shows, he said. Turner's talent for hunting and passion for sharing it with people seem to point to a natural career path for his future in that industry.
"That would be my dream job, but it probably won't happen," he said.
But you never know.
Information from: The Vicksburg Post, http://www.vicksburgpost.com
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