Hunting Turkeys and Talking Conservation with Chuck Leavell of the Rolling Stones

Posted by Jay Everett on

A recent trip to chase the hardheaded turkeys of middle Georgia found me and a couple of other turkey hunters with high hopes of punching a few tags.  I’d be sharing camp with Brian Murphy of HuntStand and Brian Godfrey, producer for NWTF. What sweetened the hunt even more was that we'd be hunting the CharLane. The CharLane is a forestland and shooting preserve owned by Chuck Leavell, keyboardist for the Rolling Stones, as well as others, like the Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, and Miranda Lambert. While the main focus of the hunting efforts at the CharLane center around quail hunting, the farm is also home to its fair share of wild turkeys. 

The CharLane Plantation is home to Rolling Stones keyboardist, Chuck Leavell.

After arriving in camp, we cruised through the farm to check some of the locations we had dropped pins on from our online scouting efforts. We also wanted to determine the best access to where we hoped the birds would be roosted.

We found lots of sign in and around several food plots, and quickly made plans for our first hunt the following morning.

Despite all our optimism, we were greeted with a brutally quiet morning as the day began to break on our first hunt. We were covering some of the finest ground around, but the birds we were doing battle with were silent. I had one lone hen fly down and come check things out at my setup, but that was it.  

I was set up on one side of the farm, while the other guys were tag-teaming on another part of the farm a mile away. The same proved true in their neck of the woods as well. Not a peep from the roost. It was a trend that would continue over the next couple days.

With the turkeys playing hardball, it was time to regroup, check our maps, and make plan for the rest of the day.

As we cut and called our way back to camp, Brian Murphy noticed turkey tracks in the two-track on top of our tire tracks from earlier in the day. With fresh tracks on the ground, we knew there was a bird hanging out close by that had managed to fly under the radar all morning. 

Finding fresh tracks in the road let us know we were back in the game.

A Solid Plan B

After a quick lunch back at the lodge, we put together a Plan B for the afternoon. I returned to the low country to try and strike a bird while the other guys worked the high ground. Murphy would make plans to revisit the food plot he had marked earlier in the day where we found the fresh gobbler tracks.  

Shortly after slipping into the woods, I got a message from Murphy that he had found the gobbler and a hen as he slipped up the trail toward his afternoon hide. He let the birds leave the field before diving into a brush blind and setting up his camera gear. He let things settle down and then cranked out a couple yelps to let the gobbler know another hen was in the area. 

The bird immediately fired back. However, Murphy's hen talk got a second hen fired up and coming to his decoy as well. The excessive hen vocals was more than the gobbler could stand. He made his way back out of the timber and marched straight towards the decoy, giving Murphy a close and personal shot, just 15 yards away. 

The hunt was a priceless lesson in the value of a solid Plan B when the birds play hardball in the spring turkey woods.

Brian Murphy of HuntStand with his Plan B gobbler.

Rock-n-Roll & Conservation

If you've never heard the name, Chuck Leavell, you need to look him up. He's easily one of best musicians to ever lay fingers to the keys. As previously mentioned, he's played for the best of the best in the music industry over the last four decades. But even more fascinating is his passion for conservation. He has a unique story as one of the greatest pianists in rock ’n’ roll history, yet it does not overshadow his love for his family and conservation. You'll see it everywhere you look at CharLane, the plantation that wears he and his wife's name - Charles / Rose Lane. 

The two have a love for planting trees, and maximizing the ground they call home for the benefit of family, friends, and the local wildlife. 

Talking Conservation – and music – with Chuck Leavell (left) in the lodge at CharLane Plantation.

Leavell is one of the biggest names in environmental forestry and was selected the National Tree Farmer of the Year in the United States. His commitment to the planet and his strong family ties are refreshing reminders to be kind and treat your neighbor with respect. As Leavell puts it, “If you cut a tree down, plant two for the next guy.”

Be sure to check out Leavell’s documentary: Chuck Leavell: The Treeman, as well as everything the CharLane has to offer, including hunts, conferences, retreats, and a look back at the rich history of this homeplace on the Georgia landscape.

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