I Was Born a Turkey Hunting Teacher with Philip Mailhiot
Editor’s Note: The greatest trophies a turkey hunter ever can take won’t be mounted on the wall, kept in a shoe box or put on display for all to see. The greatest trophy that a turkey hunter ever has is the memory of teaching others how to hunt and take turkeys. Philip Mailhiot of Westminster, Massachusetts, a Mossy Oak pro for 6 years, was the first person to ever be awarded the title of the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Mentor of the Year. Mailhiot serves on the Massachusetts State Board of the NWTF and holds several positions with the Central Massachusetts Chapter, including committee member, JAKES coordinator and Education Director. According to the NWTF, Mailhiot is a lifelong hunter and outdoorsman who is so passionate about his turkey hunting lifestyle that he makes it a priority to share it with others. Prior to the spring turkey season, he coordinates and teaches numerous hunting-education and turkey-calling programs and spends the majority of his hunting season each year mentoring new hunters - both youth and adults.
I joined the NWTF in 1993. Ever since I learned to turkey hunt, I've had a deep desire to pass on what I've learned, and to teach others to love the sport and the birds as much as I do. One of the workshops I was teaching was on Becoming an Outdoor Woman, a workshop conducted by the Massachusetts Wildlife Department. Every year, they host a turkey-hunting workshop for ladies where we teach about 20 or 30 women, first in a classroom about the wild turkey, turkey hunting and calling wild turkeys. Then on the second day of the workshop, I guided two women on a turkey hunt. This spring will be the 6th year I've been involved in this workshop. After the workshop, I try to stay in touch with the ladies. I guide and teach them on Facebook, through Email and on my blog. I can answer any questions they have and help them grow as turkey hunters.If they need any help trying to take a tough tom, they can call on my cell phone, and I can make suggestions on the tactics and strategies they may want to use to get their birds.
Learning how to call and hunt turkeys is only one problem that I try to help the people I work with solve. If they need a place to turkey hunt, I’ll tell them about areas on public lands where I've hunted and located gobblers. When the NWTF holds their program on Becoming an Outdoor Woman, I teach woodsmanship and turkey calling 101. I do seminars in schools on turkey hunting. One of my greatest joys is when I can teach turkey-hunting seminars at my son’s technical school. I try to be available to teach turkey seminars at sporting-goods stores too and anywhere someone needs a person to teach or talk about turkeys.
A new program that I'm really excited about, Become a Hunter, created by the Massachusetts Wildlife Department,started that teaches turkey hunting to men from ages 18 to age 30. These men have earned their hunter safety certificates and have their hunting licenses, but don’t know how to turkey hunt. We've learned that almost any man will help a lady learn to turkey hunt.However, very few turkey hunters will teach another man how to turkey hunt. Most men learn the sport of turkey hunting from their dads, their uncles, their cousins or friends at work. We've discovered that a large group of suburban men want to go turkey hunting, but they don’t know how to start and how to learn the sport. We’ve implemented a program in Massachusetts to teach these men who want to learn to turkey hunt everything they need to know to go afield and call up a wild turkey gobbler. Sometimes I feel like a black Labrador retriever looking for a stick. Throw the stick, and I’ll go fetch it. Show me someone who wants to learn how to turkey hunt, and I’ll go help them.
I also go to JAKES (young turkey hunters who belong to the NWTF) events. Although I've never kept a log, I know that I put in between 100 and 300 hours per year mentoring others to become turkey hunters. I don’t view sharing the sport of turkey hunting as a job. Mentoring is my recreation. I feel I get more from helping other people learn to hunt than they get from me teaching them how to hunt. I guess I'm a born teacher. When I can make someone’s life better because of something I've taught them, this is one of the greatest rewards I’ll ever receive.
Mossy Oak is the official camouflage of the NWTF. For more information on turkey hunting, conservation and events, visit www.nwtf.org.