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.
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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