Garden & Gun
By Chris Dixon
Beau Turner controls two million acres of forest and ranch land. Thankfully, he’d like to see much of it restored to its natural state.
When I reach his pickup truck at 6:00 a.m. sharp, Beauregard Reed Turner is already fuming. He’s not mad, just well doused in a sheen pungent deet, and understandably impatient. In about two and a half hours, the heir to the largest landholding in America will have to run his five-year-old son, Beau Jr., to school near Tallahassee, Florida. This leaves precious little time to stalk a pair of Eastern gobblers that have eluded him and his father, Ted, for the last couple of years.
I climb into the Tacoma, and Turner hands me camouflage pants, shirt, and hat and a gorgeous turn-of-the century Parker Bros. twin-triggered 12-gauge. Minutes later, we’re scrambling up a hill with only the barest hint of a moon to guide our way through fire-scarred piney woods. The wiry forty-year-old marches hard and fast, his turkey calls alternating between a diaphragm call and a vocal owl hoot. After two sweaty miles, answered only by whip-poor-wills, we come to the top of a long, moderate rise on Avalon Plantation’s eastern fringe across red clay hills that mark the edge of the Florida Panhandle’s hilly Upland zone. To our south, the tree-blanketed land drops a few hundred feet and remains pancake flat for better than twenty miles to the Gulf of Mexico. Then, about a quarter mile off, we hear a gobble.
“Bingo,” he whispers.