After 39 years in the pest control industry, working for Orkin, Centex HomeTeam Services and the former Allgood Pest Solutions, Dennis Judy became semi-retired in 2017. However, Judy is still active in the pest control industry. He is in partnership with his sons to help operate their business, Judy’s Pest Services, and is a part-time consultant. Judy also finds time for his other passion: turkey hunting. Since 2007, Judy has been developing his skills as a turkey hunter, which led to him earning the World Slam in 2016, the highest distinction turkey hunters can receive from the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Judy’s prized turkey at the taxidermist’s shop.

THE FIRST HUNT. Judy didn’t always enjoy turkey hunting. In the spring of 2007, a friend, who worked at Orkin at the time, repeatedly invited Judy to go turkey hunting with him. After declining several times, Judy finally agreed and went on his first-ever turkey hunt.

“We hunted four or five weekends that spring, but I was not successful in doing anything but squawking out calls and scaring [turkeys] away if they got close,” Judy said. “By the end of that season, I had decided that turkey hunting was not for me.”

But when spring rolled around again the next year, Judy’s friend encouraged him to give it another shot. After camping out on a Friday evening in March, Judy began his first solo turkey hunt on Saturday morning, the first day of the hunting season in 2008. The morning proved unsuccessful, but later that afternoon, Judy heard a gobble and watched as a large turkey moved toward his turkey calls.

“I heard scratching in the leaves behind me, and a turkey then passed about five yards to my right. This was enough to bring the gobbler out from behind the tree, and I dropped him at about 40 yards,” Judy said. “My heart raced as I quickly ran to retrieve my first turkey. I was hooked. That is where my passion and obsession for chasing these magnificent birds began.”

While hunting, Judy noticed some similarities between what he does as a PMP and as a turkey hunter. On the technical side, he said that both involve licensing to participate, along with strict regulations and legal requirements. However, he added that the most important thing a person needs to know to be both a successful PMP and wild turkey hunter is knowing the animal’s biology and habits.

“Scouting for a turkey is much like inspecting for pests; you can find them by looking for tracks, searching for droppings, looking for rub marks, listening for the sounds they make and paying close attention for movements,” Judy said. “Stealth and persistence are virtues common to both endeavors. Locating the harborage, or turkey roost, is vital to your success.”

Dennis Judy posed with his World Slam ocellated turkey.

WORLD SLAM. Eight years later, Judy flew down to Campeche, Mexico and set up camp with his guide in a jungle located 30 miles north of the Guatemalan border. With some supplies, a tent, a cot and his shotgun, Judy began his World Slam hunt.

To get to a World Slam hunt, turkey hunters must first complete a Grand Slam hunt, which consists of hunting all four United States wild turkey subspecies: Eastern, Osceola, Rio Grande and Merriam’s. Then hunters need to complete a Royal Slam hunt: the Grand Slam plus the subspecies Gould’s, which is mostly found in Mexico and limited areas in the Southwest U.S. The World Slam hunt consists of a Royal Slam plus the ocellated wild turkey found in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and in northern Guatemala and northern Belize.

The first two days of Judy’s World Slam hunt brought sightings of a few turkeys and a stealthy mountain lion, but Judy never had a good shot opportunity. It wasn’t until day three April 12, 2016, that Judy finally had some luck.

“That afternoon we traveled to yet another spot further from camp, hiked into the jungle, set up our blind and began to call. After about 30 minutes we were greeted by the sound of a turkey that was very close,” Judy said. “I raised the shotgun in anticipation and the turkey strutted in directly in front of us. One clean shot from 25 yards, and he flopped to the ground. World Slam complete!”

Judy’s World Slam ocellated turkey took 18 months to ship from Mexico to the United States due to paperwork needed for multiple U.S. and Mexican customs and wildlife departments. When it finally arrived, Judy sent his turkey to his taxidermist, where it was stuffed and mounted. It is now proudly on display in his man cave. — Kierra Sondereker