Alabama governor's turkey hunt in memory of Lynn Boykin


Mar 11, 2001
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Governor's hunt fulfills Boykin's wishes


Mobile Register

T USCALOOSA -- Gov. Don Siegelman fulfilled a campaign promise here last week when he was host for the Governor's One-Shot Turkey Hunt.

The late Lynn Dent Boykin of Mobile, a pioneer in turkey-hunting circles, had asked the governor to hold a hunt to promote the outdoors.

Her wishes reached fruition when about 60 celebrities were invited to west central Alabama for some of the nation's finest turkey hunting.

Lynn Boykin, a remarkable Alabamian and the only female elected as president of the National Wild Turkey Federation, asked me to bring this hunt to Alabama as a yearly event,» Siegelman said. Our goal is to raise awareness of the need for conservation and the value of introducing young people to the outdoors.

Lynn dedicated her life to promoting conservation and providing people everywhere with a better understanding of God's gifts of nature. It is my honor to dedicate the Governor's One-Shot Turkey Hunt in memory of Lynn Dent Boykin.»

Bob Boykin, Lynn's widower, couldn't have been happier with the outcome.

Everyone has been extremely complimentary and very enthused,» Boykin said. This isn't just about killing turkeys. It's about showcasing our state, the outdoors and the business environment. It was very, very successful.»

The governor also announced that more than $50,000 had been raised, through private donations and an auction during the event, to endow a scholarship at Auburn University for wildlife management majors. The endowment will be called the Lynn Dent Boykin Youth Wildlife Scholarship.

Special guests :

Celebrities, special guests and media representatives from around the nation gathered in Tuscaloosa last Monday and were paired with landowners and guides for the two-day event.

Among those special guests were three New York City firefighters who made an Alabama connection soon after the destruction of the World Trade Center.

It all started after Sept. 11 after some people from Alabama came up to donate some money to the New York City Fire Department,» said Gary Theriault, a NYC firefighter for 14 years. When they came to the firehouse, we started talking about hunting. A really nice lady, named Frances Ard, invited us to come down to hunt in Alabama, because our hunting season was destroyed.

We didn't know if she was serious, so about Christmas time we called her, and she said come on down. Since that time, we've been part of the family. All of us have been hunting all our lives. We had a good deer hunt. We killed six good bucks. We've never had a week like that in New York.»

Mrs. Ard introduced the firefighters to Jerry de Bin of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), who invited the New Yorkers to the NWTF convention in Charlotte, N.C., which was followed by the invitation to the Governor's One-Shot Turkey Hunt.

Southern hospitality is the truest thing I've heard,» said Theriault, who returned to his assignment at the World Trade Center site on Friday. I've heard it all my life and it's really, sincerely true. People down here have treated us great. If anything came out of this thing for us, we've made 100 new friends, at least.»

Ron Cammarata, one of the Theriault cohorts, added, The friends we've made here will last forever. These are people we are like. We're sportsmen, and we hunt turkeys and we hunt deer. And, we'll be back the last week in January for the rut.»

Female hunter prevails :

Riley Boykin Smith, commissioner of the Alabama DCNR, said the event went off without a hitch and fittingly, a female was crowned champion of the inaugural hunt. Becky Gochman of Katy, Texas, bagged a 21.3-pound gobbler with a 9.9-inch beard and 1-inch spurs.

The amount of preparation the committee and all the volunteers put into this was just tremendous, and it paid off,» Smith said. This thing ran just as smooth as if we'd done it 20 times.

I wish the weather had been a little better. But we had access to about 150,000 acres of land, some of the finest in the state. I just think it was a great deal.»

Speaking of Smith, the Mobi lian will take a leave of absence from his commissioner's post to work on Siegelman's re-election.

We've still got some items I want to get finished,» Smith said. We've got some supplemental appropriations in the Legislature. We want to get the Mobile-Tensaw Delta Environmental Welcome Center at Meaher Park done. We want to get the boating anti-theft bill through. And, we're close to a breakthrough on a computer license system.

The governor has asked me to chair the re-election campaign, which I am happy to do. I believe in Don Siegelman. I believe in what he's done for this state, especially what he's done in the conservation areas. I am going to take a leave of absence. That is what it is. I am not resigning. This will happen in May, maybe a little sooner. He and I have talked about it, and I'm going to devote all of my time to ensure his re-election.»

Rick Liles, assistant commissioner, will take over the day-to-day operations of the conservation department.

I have total confidence in Rick,» Smith said. He's the best assistant commissioner anybody could ever have.

But I went and talked to the chairman of the ethics commission and asked if I could call up and voice my opinion. He said that would be fine, so I'm still going to have my finger in it.»

Dudley does right, again :

But back to turkeys. Talk about a guy who's really having a great time in Alabama. David Dudley of Manteo, N.C., recently won $700,000 in the Ranger M1 bass tournament held in Mobile. That victory got him an invitation to the turkey hunt.

This time he had to settle for second place with a 20.3-pound gobbler.

I was hunting with Rick Vines on Clay Wiggins' land,» Dudley said. The turkey came into the field about 30 steps from us. It was right at daylight. He snuck in on us. For 30 minutes he never moved more than a tabletop. He gobbled 40 to 50 times in that one spot and he strutted the whole time.

I told Rick this one wasn't going to win. I told him to shut up and quit calling so he would walk off. But he stayed in the same spot. Then my butt started getting sore. I didn't want to spook the bird, but I had to move. I decided just to go ahead and shoot him. And he came in second place. I'm really getting to like Alabama.»

Great exercise :

Although I came back to L.A. without a turkey, I got to experience some of that great Southern hospitality, as well.

Dr. Bill Sudduth of Tuscaloosa graciously offered his 3,000-acre tract of land in Hale County for the hunt. On the stormy Tuesday morning, we managed to find one gobbling turkey after getting wet.

As we moved on the gobbler, we crossed a bottom to reach the ridge where the turkey was located.

Standing in a logging road, I used a slate to try to locate the gobbler to no avail. I pulled out a crow call and on the third caw, the turkey let out a hearty gobble no more than 100 yards away.

Undoubtedly, we were spotted as we slipped to the closest trees. Or, it could have been the five bucks that crossed that same logging road no more than 25 yards away a few minutes later. Either way, the gobbler refused to respond to any calling.

However, five jakes did come to check out the action, moving within 15 yards of Sudduth.

Wednesday morning's cold, cloudy dawn really must have thrown the turkeys into a state of shock. They didn't make a peep the whole morning. But, after traversing Sudduth's property, I certainly can say we got some great exercise.

Of course, Sudduth made sure I didn't go hungry. He got his friend, Roland Perry, to cook one of his specialties. Perry took catfish filets, stuffed them with crab meat and cooked then on the grill. After the filets were cooked, he spooned a generous helping of crawfish etouffee over the top.

I must admit, I got seconds. A hunter needs his nutrition during turkey season. It takes a lot of calories to keep this weight up.


Well-known member
Mar 12, 2001
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Finally, some good news to enjoy.  Thanks for sharing this, Jesse.

Also, I'm glad Southern hospitality got its deserved recognition as well.


Oct 5, 2001
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I didn't know Lynn Boykin but heard and read enough to know that she was a great lady and sportsman and will be missed by all! This withers in comparison to her accomplishments but I was truly moved by the details of the crab stuffed catfish fillets with crawfish etouffee!

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