When Chattanooga businessman Don Oscai recently completed the coveted world slam of turkey hunting, it carried even deeper meaning than normal.
The slate call he used last month in Mexico to get a Gould turkey memorialized a young hunting friend, Joel Parker of Clarksville, Tenn. Parker's dad, Jim, made the call specifically for Oscai.
Joel won the Grand National Junior calling title at the National Wild Turkey Federation competition in 2007 but died in a traffic accident while going deer hunting two years ago, a few days before his 21st birthday.
Oscai, a turkey hunter for decades, already had claimed five of the bird's six subspecies that are part of the world slam: the Eastern, Rio Grande, Merriam, Osceola and Ocellated. Only the Gould remained, and Oscai made plans to go to Mexico to get one.
When he saw Jim Parker at this year's NWTF convention in Nashville, they decided to make the quest together. Parker told Oscai he was making a slate call for him in memory of Joel.
The two flew April 22 from Nashville to Durango, Mexico, for their hunt with guide Jorge Breton. They drove two and a half hours into the Sierra Madre Mountains in a 1977 Bronco.
"Only 10 minutes of the trip was asphalt," Oscai said. "The rest of it was a winding gravel road around a mountain with no guardrails."
The hunt camp was at 6,000 feet of elevation. They hunted at 8,200.
Rugged weather greeted them as they began hunting that Friday - 30 degrees and 30 mph winds. Parker bagged a double-bearded (10 inches and 51/4 inches) Gould that day and accompanied Oscai for his success the next morning. Oscai's Gould had a 121/4-inch beard.
"I went back that afternoon and he asked, 'Where's the call?'" Oscai said. "I told him I had retired it."
"Jim had three sons," Oscai noted. "Judd, Joel and Jason. Judd, like Joel, has also won the Grand National Juniors."
Oscai, who is in the construction business, has competed in NWTF calling with Parker - a 10-time Tennessee state champ - for two decades.
"The only time I've won the state, Jim wasn't there," Oscai said with a laugh. "He's that good.
"Joel used to call me 'Mr. Don.' Joel loved turkey hunting as much as I do. He would cut up and call me 'Mr. Don.' So Jim put the inscription on the call: 'Pass it on, Mr. Don.'"
Only about 200 people have registered world slams with the NWTF. Earl Martin Counts of Chattanooga and Tommy Waller of Soddy-Daisy are on the list.
All of their world slams remain memorable. The personalized call makes Oscai's indelible.