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Tailgate Talks: 9-Year-Old Maverick Maddux's Grand Slam


Written by Maverick Maddux

Hey, you want to know a little secret?  Come close and I’ll tell you:

I didn’t realize turkey hunting was hard when I first started hunting with my dad.  

You might think it was hard because we didn’t see turkeys, but it was the exact opposite.  I had so many close encounters my first four days of hunting that ended in disappointment.  I would see turkeys and get so excited, but something always seemed to go wrong.  On my fourth day hunting, a gobbler came in at seven yards.  I was so close, and knew it was about to happen.  But right before I could pull the trigger, something spooked the turkey and it flew away. 

That was the hardest moment of my turkey hunting experience because I had seen so many and hadn’t gotten a shot.  I sat under a big oak tree, and cried with my dad.  I was ready to give up.    

Then, a text from my mom came in.  It said:  “Maverick, don’t give up!!!  These are the moments that separate the true hunters.  So many times, life doesn’t go as planned, but you always keep your joy and that is what makes you so special!!  Pray that God can energize you to go get your turkey.  You can do this, sweet boy.  Don’t give up!”

I got up, wiped my tears and said, “Are there any other places we haven’t tried yet?”

Sure enough, with my dad by my side, I shot my first bird later that day.  “I did it!  I actually did it!  I can’t believe it, Dad, I did it!”  I was so excited to call my mom and little sister, Magnolia, to tell them the good news.

A few days later, I got a letter from my friend and hunting guide, Mr. Drew.  He wrote a few encouraging words about my turkey hunt.  This is my favorite part:

“Your first turkey hunt was very special for many reasons.  That hunt symbolized so many things in life.  It tested your faith in yourself that you could do it, just like life will do to you everyday.  That hunt tested your determination, pushing yourself through the sticks and thorns.  

Most people in today’s world will look to find an “okay” reason to quit, to not walk that extra mile like you did.  In life, success comes to those who are willing to find reasons to keep going.”

Those words encouraged me to enjoy more than the success of the hunt, but the journey along the way.


Maverick at 7 years old and his first turkey.

That part of my journey was just beginning:

Rio turkey in Kansas…2022. Check!  

Eastern turkey at my family farm in Missouri…2023.  Check!

Merriams turkey and the trip of a lifetime with my dad to Wyoming…2023. Check!

For the rest of the year, I dreamed of getting my grand slam in Florida - a dream that felt years out of reach.  Little did I know, it was going to happen the next spring!

A hunting outfitter in Florida named Mike Tussey, who is also a friend of my dads, found out that all I needed was an Osceola turkey to complete my grand slam. He invited me out to try my hand at harvesting that special bird.  I never dreamed I would have the chance to get my grand slam in under three years!  It was the best feeling of my life when we stepped on to a plane headed to Florida.

Before I knew it, my dad and I were following our guide, Jim, to an amazing spot full of palmedas and swamp cabbages.  After five hours of sitting in a blind, two gobblers walked in.  Their heads were too close together so I could not fire for fear of hitting both.  When they finally seperated, I shot.  The biggest gobbler collapsed.

It’s honestly hard to put into words how I felt in that moment.  I remember the challenges of that first hunt in Kansas.  I remember how special shooting my second turkey with my dad on our family farm was.  I remember the beauty of Wyoming, taking pictures of me and my turkey in front of the Devil’s Tower monument.  And I remember my dad’s face right after I pulled the trigger in Florida for my grand slam.

My grand slam has taught me one thing.  Nothing comes easy in life that is worth having.  But secretly, the most special part of this whole journey wasn’t the turkeys or the fun road trips.  It was the time I spent with my dad. 

maverick maddux

Maverick's Osceola turkey that completed his grand slam. 

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