By REINA KEMPT | The Natchez Democrat
NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP)— Carolyn Harper began hunting with her father when she was just 10 years old using a .22 rifle with a scope to bag squirrels.
Now at 77, Harper has more than 65 years of experience hunting everything from ducks, quail, deer and turkey, having also enjoyed fishing and camping with her family as her children grew up.
Last year, one of the two 8 point bucks Harper killed was a rare Piebald.
“It's unusual to get a Piebald,” Harper said. “They usually weigh around 100 pounds, but this one was 154 pounds. Bucks usually have small four or six-point racks. The man who cleaned the deer said it was the largest Piebald he had ever seen.”
Harper was introduced to turkey hunting by her son, Nolan, in 1998, and she has killed at least one turkey every year since.
“The first one I killed had three beards.” Harper said. “I love calling them. That's really the exciting part when you have a big bird gobbling and drumming, and you can watch him strutting.”
This year, Harper killed a turkey with a 9-and-a-half- inch beard and 1 inch spurs on property in Jefferson County where she and her husband have a camp.
Harper and her husband, Bobby, have been married for 62 years and they hunt together often because Harper said her friends aren't too big on hunting.
“At my age, my friends would not be interested at all in hunting,” Harper said. “You don't find too many my age who even want to go to the woods.”
Bobby said he believes more women are starting to hunt, but maybe not as enthusiastically as Harper.
“I remember when we were members of a club, and she was the only woman who had actually killed a deer,” Bobby said.
Harper said her love for the turkey hunting keeps her going.
“It takes an awful lot of patience and you definitely don't see a big gobbler often, it just doesn't happen,” Harper said. “But I do a lot of things to pass the time while waiting on the turkeys. I always carry me a good book.”
Harper said she also likes to take photographs of nature while she's out hunting. As much as she enjoys hunting, she enjoys recreating the woods scenes as she does watercolor painting when she gets home. Harper takes those photos _ or images in her mind _ and duplicates them into watercolor painting.
Harper said she doesn't see herself retiring from outdoor adventures for a while.
“As long as I am physically able to still go out and enjoy it, I'll be going,” she said. “Of course, as long as I get as excited as I did when I saw this last turkey coming toward me, I'll be in the woods looking.”
Information from: The Natchez Democrat, www.natchezdemocrat.com