Chasing turkeys is family tradition for the Parkmans

Donnie Parkman is a serious turkey hunter and with good reason; he learned from one of the best. His dad, V.E. “Blue” Parkman, was a turkey-hunting legend long before turkey hunting was “cool” in north Louisiana.

Blue Parkman died in 1995 at the age of 73 but before he passed away, he quietly and without fanfare was part of a handful of turkey hunters who went out morning after morning with dreams of finding a single turkey track or maybe even getting to hear the ringing gobble of a longbeard on the roost.

Today, there are thousands of turkey hunters new to the sport in north Louisiana and chances are good that today’s hunters will find turkey tracks, hear gobblers and have a chance to bring a strutting tom to the gun. I count myself as one of these late bloomers, having stumbled upon the sport I’ve come to love in 1992.

My introduction to turkey hunting, however, began 15 years earlier on an April morning in 1977 when I was coaxed to come along on a turkey hunt to the Jackson-Bienville wildlife management area by Blue Parkman. I admit I was curious about what hunting spring gobblers was all about but not curious enough to put on camo, pick up my shotgun and leave the bluegill beds.

As I followed Parkman through the woods that morning, listening to him coax sweet music from his old Lynch box call, I recall thinking that this might be a sport I’d get interested in somewhere down the line. Even though a gobbler answered the call and indicated he wanted to play before a real hen took him across the Jackson Parish hills, my interest soon returned to what I usually did on spring mornings, and that was set up on a hot bream bed. My turkey hunting trip to Alabama in 1992 and my first face-off with a strutting tom, however, changed all that.

Today, I chase turkeys anywhere I have the chance to go, and that included a trip to south Texas where one of our hunting party from Ruston included Blue Parkman’s son, Donnie. During that trip, I was able to take a Rio Grande gobbler while Parkman, following in his dad’s footsteps, took two. I sat down with Parkman to reflect on his dad’s legacy as one of north Louisiana’s pioneer turkey hunters.

“Dad was one of only a few turkey hunters in the area. L.W. Hamner, James Brooks and Levi McCullen and dad and very few others were just about all there were back then,” Parkman told me.

“If you heard a gobbler, it was a successful day and if one did sound off, every hunter in the woods took off after him. They ran more off than they killed but they had a good time trying,” he added, chuckling.

“I was in high school when dad talked me into going turkey hunting with him. We hunted at a game preserve over near Bastrop; they had a few more turkeys there than we did here,” Parkman continued.

“Getting to the woods early and getting as close to the roost tree as possible without spooking the bird were some early lessons I learned from my dad. One of the main things he taught me was the need to develop patience. Sometimes we’d sit for hours waiting for a gobbler to show up when I’d want to take off and find another one. I learned from dad just how important being patient is to being a successful turkey hunter.”

Donnie Parkman is continuing the turkey hunting tradition handed down to him by his dad.

“The times I enjoy most today are those times when I take my son, Jason, with me to the turkey woods. Dad passed his passion for turkey hunting down to me,” said Parkman, “and I owe it to my son to keep the legacy alive.”

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