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Beyond the Game: With motivation to finish quickly, Benton man kills a turkey in 49 states

Chasin' 49: Chad Parker (KATV Photo)

A Benton man hit a target many hunters have likely set their sights on, yet only eight have officially completed: kill a turkey in 49 states.

"I got to see the entire United States doing something I absolutely love," Chad Parker said. "How many people can say that?"

It's called a U.S. Super Slam. The records, kept by the National Wild Turkey Foundation, require proof in the form of registering individual birds and witness signatures.

"Turkeys aren't the hard part. It's the logistics and the planning and everything else that goes into just getting there," Parker said.

His father taught him to love the sport at an early age. He killed his first turkey when he was nine. The two began branching out to nearby states. Only shooting in the Spring, Parker initially did not have a timetable to complete the "slam."

His brother's passing in October, 2014, however, dramatically changed that.

"It's something that gave me the drive to see my own personal selfish want-to's, to see those through.

"I just kind of looked at my life and revamped my life overall," he said.

"I thought that, what good is a lifetime bucket list if you're not here to see it through?"

With a new motivation to finish quickly, Parker proceeded to kill turkeys in 31 states in the next three years, including 12 in 2016 and 14 in 2017. He reached state No. 49, Michigan, in late April.

"When I pulled the trigger on number 49, of course I was excited. I picked up my phone and luckily had service and called my wife and told Lindsey, it's over."

"I was asleep," Lindsey said with a big smile. "He woke me up and when I answered the phone, I knew. I knew what it was. I had been waiting on it. I knew what it was and I answered and he said, I did it. It's done, and I was like, I cried."

"Amazing, amazing story," said Randy Parker, Chad's dad, who was with him on the trip.

It is an achievement to visit 49 states. Chad Parker killed a turkey in all of them. The larger legacy, however, is the lesson learned: life is short. Make the most of every moment.

"There can be struggles, there's up's and down's. I take those lessons I learn in what is a hobby home with me and to work with me and they all parallel."

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