Natchez native Crisp ‘eats, sleeps, breathes’ turkeys

Published 2:38 pm Sunday, April 8, 2007

For 24 years Tucker Crisp, 48, of Natchez, has been making a name for himself as professional turkey caller and owl hooter, winning multiple National Wild Turkey Federation titles in both divisions over the course of his career.

Crisp, who prefers slate calls, but also uses mouth calls and his natural voice, said he got started back in 1980 when his dad called him from Shreveport and told him about a turkey-calling contest, and said he should enter. Once he arrived Crisp discovered that there was an owl-hooting contest as well. After some convincing, he and his dad entered both contests, and Crisp eventually won the owl-hooting contest.

From there, he began competing nationally and won the Wild Turkey Bourbon Grand National Champions owl hooting division in 1984, 1986, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996 and 1998, for a total of seven national titles.

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He won back-to-back gobbling division championships in 1992 and 1993, and added a third title in 1996, but he says his greatest accomplishment as a professional caller came in 1997, when he won the Champion of Champions title, which he won by one point.

“ I always said I wanted to win at least once,” Crisp said. “That’s about as high as you can go.”

After winning multiple calling titles, Crisp decided to retire in 2004.

He said like many other sports, calling is a skill that must be practiced, and he said after a while he lost his drive. But he did not lose his desire to compete in other NWTF events.

Crisp, a full-time taxidermist, said he plans on entering several turkey mounts in contests to come.

“I want to find out how good my turkeys really are,” he said.

To get turkeys to enter into the contest, Crisp said he heads to the Homochitto National Forest.

He said there are plenty of places to hunt for turkeys, and the size of the forest makes the hunt a little more challenging. He thinks turkey hunting is more exciting than deer hunting.

“You know you’re going to see some kind of action every time you go out. If you are hunting for trophy deer, you may not fire a shot all season,” he said.

The Camden, Ark., Native said Natchez is very fortunate to have a large turkey population.

He said when he started turkey hunting in Arkansas, he might see one turkey during the season. In Natchez he said he encounters 10-12 turkeys a year.

“After that, I said there ain’t no way I am going back there,” Crisp said.

So far this season Crisp said he has bagged two turkeys, but added he has done some calling for other people who have had successful hunts.

Crisp has been married to his wife, Donna, for 27 years, and they have one son, Tyler, who is currently a biology major at Ole Miss.

Crisp said he took Donna turkey hunting once, and said while she did not shoot a turkey, she did see how excited he got.

“We were sitting shoulder to shoulder, and she could feel my heart beating through my shoulder,” he said.

He said it is that excitement that keeps him out in the woods this time of year, but the one drawback to turkey season is that you miss out on some good fishing opportunities as spawning begins around the same time.

“I eat, sleep and breathe turkeys,” Crisp said. “That’s pretty much all I do this time of year.”