Joshua Carney jokes about his wheelchair, lives for his next turkey hunt and owns mad natural-voice calling skills. But within his love of a punchline, he preaches caution.
It’s for his fellow hunters’ own good.
“Every time you pick up a gun, and you pull the trigger, you’re making a decision. Is that decision going to be a great one, or will it be one that haunts you for a lifetime?” asks Carney, 23, from Baton Rouge, La., who lost the use of his legs at age 13 when his father accidentally shot him during their ill-planned first turkey hunt.
Carney travels the country as a motivational speaker known as “Son of the South.” He’s also called “The Original Natural Caller,” using just his voice to call turkeys, geese, elk, coyotes and other species.
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He discovered the talent two years ago when he impulsively claimed he could do a better job with his voice than a show vendor did with a turkey-calling device. Carney did. He credits changes to his voice caused by tubes in his throat during his long hospitalization.
From a camo-painted wheelchair, he spoke at the Feb. 27-March 1 Dixie Deer Classic outdoors show at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, ahead of North Carolina’s turkey season. Youth-only season is April 4-10, and the statewide season will run April 11-May 9. For regulations, go to www.ncwildlife.org.
Recent weeks have seen Carney at outdoors ministry banquets in Alabama and Maryland, a Cabela’s store opening in Fort Mill, S.C., a predator hunt in Texas and a turkey hunt during Nebraska’s archery season.
At appearances, he tells the story of realizing he was in the line of fire as his father aimed at a turkey, feeling double-ought buckshot, being in hospitals, rehabilitating, finally going home – and rabbit hunting two weeks later.
“If it wasn’t for my accident, I wouldn’t have the fuel and the passion and drive that I have for hunting,” said Carney, who said he has a great relationship with his father.
He said he increased his respect for “the most dangerous sport in hunting,” and he advises carrying the right attitude and gear:
Know your target because some hunters “see somebody walking out a turkey and they think it’s a bird in the field, so they shoot.”
Wear your safety equipment.
Let people know where you’re hunting.
Consider a GPS service or locator.
Take an up-to-date survival kit.
Pack a whistle.
Just shooting should never be the goal, he said.
“The best bragging rights is coming to your family, your friends, and saying, ‘I had a successful hunt even if I didn’t kill,’ ” he said. “… You lived to hunt another day.”
Boat show: The Oriental Rotary Club’s seventh Oriental In-Water Boat Show is scheduled for April 10-12. Got to www.orientalboatshow.com.
Shotgun event: The N.C. Youth Shooting Foundation stops at Deep River Sporting Clays and Shooting School near Sanford on April 4. Go to www.ncysf.org.
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