The day I met Joanie Haidle my life was changed. It was an "accidental" meeting. I was hunting with Marc Jordan from Punxutawny, a world-class taxidermist, one spring morning in 2003. About 8 a.m. we tired of trying to roust a gobbler into action during the pounding rain. Jordan suggested we go for breakfast at a restaurant he knew nearby and I agreed quickly.
Joanie owned that restaurant and just "happened" to be there that morning. As I would learn later, she had followed my writings for many years and was hoping that someday she would get to meet me.
You see, Joanie was a dedicated fanatic, a zonked-out chaser of the wild turkey. And she, like me, had no female buddy to hunt with, to talk endlessly about all things turkey with, to shop for the latest in camouflage gear with, to sit late into the night with just exchanging turkey hunting experiences.
So she was pretty much a loner and so was I. Female independent hunters are still sort of a rare breed and the one down side to being one of those is that your choice of hunting buddies is limited.
So when Jordan introduced us that morning, I was at my worst. My hair and clothing were soaked. As I shook her hand, my hair and clothes were dripping all over her floor but it was instant sympatico. We were kindred souls and we knew it from the beginning. In fact, later we have come to understand that it was a divine connection.
The first thing that fascinated me was that she built, manufactured and marketed her own line of turkey calls. That's a story in itself that I won't go into here but she gave me a few of her calls and I was astounded at the tone and quality of them and can honestly say I have not used any other calls since then. But then, when we hunt together, I simply let her do all the calling because as much as I practice, I cannot duplicate her skills. She is a natural.
Readers of this column have often heard me speak of Joanie. She and I are privilged to be doing several seminars on turkey hunting/calling at the upcoming Jaffa Outdoor Show. She will have a booth there as well and I invite you to look it up and see and hear her unique calls yourself.
I will also be the emcee for the turkey calling contest on Sunday afternooon and believe me, both of us are looking forward to meeting and talking with many of you. It's going to be a great time.
Some years after Joanie and I began to hunt together, we met Teresa Patterson of Duncansville, another thoroughly cronked hunter and the three of us became a triumvirate of female hunters, especially for wild turkey.
Patterson is much involved in the Jaffa show as well. The three of us have hunted together often and have some rare and exciting experiences in the outdoors.
One of the highlights of our seminar will be a clip of a hunt the three of us went on together. Teresa did the filming, Joanie did the calling and I just sat there contributing nothing.
Things didn't go quite as hoped that morning and in fact, we learned a very important lesson that morning about hunting a gobbler that has one or more hens with him. If that is a problem that has ever buffaloed you, come hear what we learned about the situation and how to overcome it.
As I understand it, because the promoters of the Harrisburg show made the ridiculous decision to ban certain guns from being displayed, and vendors began to boycott the show to the point where it was simply canceled, many of those same vendors have decided to participate in the Jaffa show this year. This show should really be an antidote to our cabin fever this year. And boy, have I got it bad.
The Turkey calling contest is called the "Allegheny Mountain Classic." It is sanctioned by the NWTF and it will be held on Sunday, Feb. 24 with a 1:30 p.m. starting time. People interested in participating can call Ben Chamberlain at 931-4002 or 710-7570.
Because of the situation in Harrisburg, and since this is a sanctioned contest, it will have the best callers in the state participating. So here is your chance to see and hear the best of the best.