|Parker Whedon obituary
in the Charlotte Observer 3/20/12
all that knew Parker. In my book he was "The Grand old Master" and
there will be some sad days to come. Parker was a turkey dog
man and loved that hunting a lot more than the springtime. He loved to
read your articles. He would say to me after we would talk about a dog
you featured, that we would have to meet that dog and have a look at
it. Always looking to see what pups were in the article and talk about
the breed. Thanks again for what each and everyone of the turkey dog
hunters do to keep this alive." Gene
Gardner March 20, 2012
"I'll be writing the concluding chapter in my next book, "Remembering the Greats: Profiles of Turkey Hunting's Old Masters," on Parker. The book will be dedicated to him, because he's the man who set my feet to walking in the turkey woods and tutored me as I progressed as a turkey hunter.
I would note that he cared deeply about the Catawba River Conservancy. Somewhere I have a slide of him, taken while we were on a canoe float trip fishing in the river, and along with him hoisting a five-pound bass the image is notable in that he has a wingbone call hanging around his neck. There are lots of turkeys along the river and he just had to offer them some conversational opportunities. He was instrumental, perhaps more than any one individual, in a struggle against Duke Power which saw some significant changes connected with the river and its flow.
Those of us who attend the memorial service on Thursday will likely 'sing him home' with a rousing chorus of yelps and kee-kees from Spirit Yelpers he made over the years. I know I intend to have my 'instrument' ready to play." Jim Casada March 20, 2012. "And pipe in a few lonely old dog howls for Peaches, Chief, Rocky, Bruce and Patch."
|Parker Whedon always said; "Fall and winter turkey hunting with his dog required far more woodsmanship than spring turkey hunting." When he began hunting, the traditional season was fall and winter, and ran from Thanksgiving until Feb. 15, but back then turkeys were 'scarce as hens teeth'. In 1959, he instigated a movement to have a separate restoration program for the wild turkey in North Carolina. They began a spring 'gobbler only' season, because then the hens are more distinguishable from the gobblers. While he loved fall hunting more than spring, it was necessary to have more hunters to support the growth of the turkey population. We're grateful that he's shared his memories with us. Mr. Whedon will be 80 years old in June, 2005. Update August 2007 - Parker turned 82 and has his own website now! Old Masters Custom Turkey Calls|
|"All I can
contribute, of course, is from my own experience in hunting with my own
dogs and those of others. Beginning in 1950 I have hunted with English
setters, pointers, llewellens, boykins, cocker spaniels, feists and
curs in mountains, foothills, sandhills and swamps. Almost all were
reasonably good without reference to pedigree. I was especially
surprised to find how efficient mixed breed dogs could be. Starting in
1961, after varied experience with boykins (the only breed specifically
developed for turkey hunting), I began breeding curs or feists, based
on performance without regard to pedigree, and have been highly pleased
for the most part with the results through 8 generations. My last dog
died 2 years ago at almost 18 years, and a friend has one of his pups.
The best dog I ever had for hunting old hermit gobblers was a little
bitch named Peaches who would follow a trail barking as she went, with
me running after her at her moderate pace until the gobbler got sick of
that business and hopped up in a tree where she would remain until I
showed up and shot him off the limb, or as he flew out. Back then there
was no reluctance whatever to shoot one out of a tree. The idea was to
shoot one in a legal way, and bring him home and put him on the table."
training a turkey dog, I came across a piece I wrote a few years ago on
the subject for a pair of turkey hunters who had just acquired a boykin
spaniel and wanted to train him to hunt turkeys and thereby fulfill the
function for which his breed was the only one ever bred or developed.
The pair had never hunted turkeys with a dog. I'll donate this fairly
short piece to the association, hope you can all benefit from it.
Parker October 27, 2006
Keena is as close as possible in size and appearance to the black mutt
I began my breeding with, down to his short tail, white paws, erect
ears and body shape. Buying him for $50 was the best money I ever
spent, because not only was he a great dog, but he was the sire of
Peaches. Your dog could be the litter mate of my favorite dog of all
time, Peaches who despite appearances was not a beagle. PS: One of
these days I'll tell you another story." Parker 11/4/06
|Pictures show me with two jakes I
killed in SC. Then in 1963 a spring gobbler I killed.
And last, in the early 1960's with my third and last boykin, and a gobbler we killed. Photos © 2005 Parker Whedon.
one that occurs to me now took place over 40 years ago, on a fall day.
I was hunting up the east side of Haw River with my mentors Eben Merrit
(died 30 odd years ago) and Arlis Brock (now 93 years old) and 4 dogs:
Mr. Merrit's 2 setters Frank and Pup, my boykin Chief and my popeyed
pointer Rocky. All of a sudden up ahead of us, a turkey hopped and
splashed into the river! Mr. Merrit exclaimed, "It's a goose; I've
hunted turkeys 30 years and they can't swim." Arlis said, "It went
'kerplunge' like when you throw a refrigerator in the river." Well, the
turkey hen was swimming strongly and even partially dived to escape my
boykin. Chief got some tail feathers and returned to land, but Rocky
chased the hen across the river where he caught and killed it on the
far bank, and returned to our side of the river. Then I had to wade and
jump rocks to cross the river and retrieve the bird, which had been
shot 2 or 3 days before." Parker
about my 5th generation mutt, and a great turkey dog with the most
speed for his size that I ever had. In looks he appeared to be a
miniature or very small english setter. He weighed about 30 lbs. One
evening in an area we called the 'tree farm' he failed to come in from
running some turkeys, and I had to go finally and left my jacket for
him to lie on and wait for me to come. This had always worked for me in
similar circumstances, but not this time.
After putting up lost dog signs all around the area and knocking on many doors, finally I got a call from somebody in Calhoun Falls, down on the Savannah River, 150 miles from where I lost him, that Bruce had come to the caller while he was out quail hunting. So I drove down one night and, glad enough to get him back that I abandoned my justifiable suspicions and didn't cross examine the 'finder'.
A while later, hunting in the same area, Bruce failed to come in, and I went through the same procedures again to advertise his loss, but no one called this time and a few months went by. One day after work my old friend drove me 30 miles to Lamcaster to get my car from the repair shop. On the way back about halfway home in the grassy median I saw Bruce (he was a wonderful turkey dog) and did a u-turn back toward Bruce lying in the grass, stopped short, got out, squatted down and encouraged him to come to me, which he did slowly and sheepishly. I picked him up, put him in the car, drove back to where Tom, mystified, had parked on the shoulder of the highway, and told him that I had found Bruce! We then went to my apartment, took Bruce in and proceeded to call Tom Jr, who was my best hunting buddy and celebrate and rejoice with him over the great event. While I was talking to young Tom and telling him all that had happened, Bruce, lying at my feet, turned over onto his back, and he was a female! They say love is blind." Parker
afternoon Peaches and I hunted an area without striking a track, and
drove to another area about 2 miles away. It wasn't long before she
struck a hot trail of what turned out to be old gobblers. I saw one fly
up into a tree and ran to the tree and shot him as he took flight.
Peaches kept on running and barking on the trail, until I couldn't keep
up and she went out of hearing. It was getting late, so I went back to
the car and waited for her return. And waited and waited until it was
dark. I left my jacket on the ground for her to stay with when she
returned, a procedure which had proved infallible in the past in
It soon began to sleet and I returned later that night to get her, but no luck and I went home and set the clock to get up before daylight and drive back those 80 miles to my jacket. It was still sleeting and Peaches was not there. I decided to go as far as I could in the direction she had been running, which carried me across a paved road into a different area of woods, where I stopped and blew my hunting horn to which she was trained to respond. In the distance I heard some mournful howling and began running toward it. When I got within sight of the spot where I had first parked the car on the previous afternoon, Peaches came running out to meet me. Never was there a more joyous, if tearful, reunion between a man and his dog!" Parker
"I got a nice gobbler this morning on the Catawba River farm of some friends.
Friday I leave for the Roanoke River farm of another friend." 4/5/2005
"Back in November I did have a hunt of a sort with the little bitch 'Patch' during deer season on Roanoke River. My host was interested in learning about and experiencing fall turkey hunting, but without shooting, since there was no open season. At 2:30 PM I was dropped off on a pretty hardwood ridge with Patch in my charge so that if any turkeys wandered into the area or made themselves known by scratching or vocalizing, I was to release Patch to flush and scatter them. I had a borrowed rifle and would shoot a deer if a proper opportunity arose.
For 2 hours or more I sat there in my fold up chair with Patch on her leash constantly moving and wrapping herself up in bushes and vines until about 4:30 a turkey putted about 60 yards to my left. I untangled the leash and let her go-off like a shot, not to be seen for an hour. Meanwhile, a half hour went by when looking to my left there were 4 longbeards only 50 yards away, walking in single file from left to right. I fired the rifle straight up in the air and they flew and lit in trees. I got out of my chair and walked down to where they had been, running one off on the ground while another flew out of a tree. By this time it was beginning to get dark and the great birds, scattered over 6 or 7 acres appeared to be settled for the night. At 5:45 one gobbled less than 100 yards away. Patch came back in about the same time as my host picked me up.
Next morning, in a blind waiting for dawn, and expecting the birds to assemble by gobbling, I clucked once and again 5 minutes later. At which the first of three gobbles roared out from the same place as that of the night before. It wasn't long before I saw him coming on the ground without having heard him leave the tree (my hearing is bad). He came up to within 20 or 25 yards, stood for a while and then wandered off.
My host then got a taste of fall/winter hunting and I had the thrill and rare pleasure of calling up an old gobbler at that time of year." Best wishes, Parker. January 17, 2006
"When I was a young man, there were only four books published on hunting the wild turkey. In 1983, before the current renaissance of turkey hunting, we formed the Old Masters Publishing Company to reprint them." They are:
The Wild Turkey and its Hunting by (Chas. L. Jordan) & A. E. McIlhenny, 1914
Tales of Wild Turkey Hunting by Simon “The Kurnel” Everitt, 1928
The American Wild Turkey by Henry E. Davis, 1949
Hunting the Wild Turkey by Tom Turpin, ~1940
"There are various methods of hunting the wild turkey, such as roosting, baiting, stalking, flushing the birds and then building a blind and calling them back, and hunting with a dog. The latter I find a most scientific and fascinating sport. Several breeds of dogs are well fitted for hunting turkeys on the range, among them being setters, spaniels, and often hounds, and I have even known some mongrels that were excellent turkey hunters. I prefer a settter or mongrel that is a good ranger and one which will bark on the flush. I also like to hunt with a small dog as it is not so much in the way in a blind, boat, wagon or automobile."
Tales of Wild Turkey Hunting by Simon “The Kurnel” Everitt.
trains turkey dogs to take into the woods and scatter the flocks. |
He had one dog named Peaches that could do nothing wrong."
The Skrinking World of Parker Wheedon by Angus Phillips November 9, 1979
|Parker Whedon: The Last Of The Old-Time Turkey Hunters by Jim Casada Apr 6, 2020|
Parker Whedon's friend Gene Gardner
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