When Jason Hart tightened the trigger on a Mississippi longbeard in the spring of 2021, it brought closure to a quest he began nearly a decade ago. With a special turkey gun in his hands, he had completed the U.S. Super Slam of the wild turkey – taking a bird in 49 states across the country.
“Back in 2013, I experienced a devastating loss when one of my best friends, James Guthrie, suddenly passed away,” says Hart. “We had grown up together in the hunting industry and had hunted together in many states. When he died, it made me realize how short and precious life is. I decided to set a personal life goal in my favorite obsession and kill a wild turkey in every state before I died.”
And that’s exactly what he did. Hart began adding other states across the country to his growing list of successful turkey states. He was chipping away at accomplishing his goal of completing the U.S. Super Slam – harvesting a turkey in 49 states across the country (all but Alaska).
As Hart began to close in on his goal of completing the Super Slam, a new twist to the challenge was presented by the boys at Mossy Oak.
“In 2019, Daniel Haas and Neil Haas of Mossy Oak asked me to finish #49 in their home state of Mississippi with their family near the town where their father, Toxey, founded the iconic Mossy Oak brand in 1986.”
Hart says the dream became a reality in 2021 after two hard days of hunting Mississippi longbeards.
“The Haas family made that hunt incredibly special for me,” says Hart. “And for my final trigger pull on #49, I used Guthrie’s turkey gun. The memories and friends made along the way have been amazing and made it the ride of a lifetime, chasing America’s greatest game bird.”
Hart wasn’t the first, and certainly won’t be the last, to complete the Super Slam of the wild turkey. The feat has become a growing trend among the turkey hunting community in recent years with hunters across the country making the Super Slam a lifelong hunting goal. In fact, there’s even a brand that’s built around the pursuit of 49 turkeys across the country.
Meet Chasing 49
Chasing 49 is a brand committed to shining light on turkeys, and turkey hunting across the country, particularly the Super Slam. Founders Keith Ott and Stephen Spurlock say their brand’s roots can be found in the mountains of northern Nevada where the idea began. In 2016, the two began their journey with the U.S. Super Slam. It’s a journey that has taken the team to every state the wild turkey inhabits.
Spurlock and Ott grew up hunting together in the hills of Virginia from the age of 12. Since that time, the two have traveled and hunted together all throughout North America.
The idea for the Chasing 49 brand grew out of Ott’s passion and pursuit of the U.S. Super Slam that began in 2015. He completed his quest for the Slam in April of 2020. You can follow the team’s exciting Chasing 49 film series that shares an inside look at the journey. The first film - Chasing 49 – Day 7 - marked the beginning of the brand.
The Chasing 49 team annually travels the country each spring sharing the stories of men and women in pursuit of the Super Slam. Their story is one of friendship, passion, and a drive to see the wild and remote locations the wild turkey calls home.
NWTF Super Slam Records
The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) website features a listing of hunters that have registered their various turkey slams across the country.
The U.S. Super Slam is obviously among the shortest list in the mix. The list includes the hunter, where they’re from, and when they completed their slam. Check out the list below for a closer look at the hunters that have registered their Super Slams with the NWTF.
- Jeff Budz - Indian Lake Estates, FL (1 in 2015)
- Tanner Burns - Buckhannon, WV (1 in 2021)
- Tim Byrd - Hernando, MS (1 in 2019)
- Scott Culpepper - Ellerslie, GA (1 in 2017)
- David J. Ellis - Crestview, FL (1 in 2016)
- Anthony Hudak, Noxen, PA (1 in 2016)
- Clayton Johnston, Brookhaven, MS (1 in 2019)
- Kenny Mount, Anniston, AL (1 in 2019)
- Clyde Neely, Kingwood, TX (1 in 2012)
- Chad Parker, Benton, AR (1 in 2017)
- Daniel Rorrer, Pulaski, VA (1 in 2011)
- James Wilhelm, Eagle Rock, VA (1 in 2012)
- Tim Yates, Decatur TN (1 in 2021)
You might think that once a turkey hunter achieves the Super Slam, they’d be able to sit back, relax, and take a break from chasing turkeys so hard. But that’s not the case. Each spring brings a renewed passion for the hunt, and the drive seems to grow just as strong, even after completing the Slam. I recently talked with a local turkey-hunting friend, Tas Gardner, about life after completing the Slam. Gardner recently received an award from the NWTF for completion of the Super Slam in 2021. When asked if he was going to slow down a bit now that he’d completed the Super Slam, he responded with, “Man, I’m just as excited to hunt turkeys this spring as I’ve ever been.” The relentless drive turkey hunters have can’t seem to be shaken, regardless of whether it’s your 1st, or 49th.
Who Will Be Next to Complete the Slam?
As mentioned above, the chase for 49 turkeys across the country is a growing trend. There’s a number of hunters closing in on their final states. Who will be next? As with any records being set, you’ll always find someone with their eyes fixed on breaking old records and setting new ones. There’s always someone wanting to raise the bar. Who will do it the fastest? Who will be the first lady to complete the Super Slam? Who will do it with a bow? And the list goes on.
Records are made to be broken. And despite what comes in the days ahead for the wild turkey in the way of bag limits and turkey populations, you can bet there will always be someone out there chasing 49.