DUBLIN — The woods of Bladen County hold some great hidden treasures. Just ask Amber Carter, who will always hold the date of April 18, 2015, as a special day in her memory.
Carter has always had a great appreciation of the ourtdoors, but she nearly didn’t live past the age of 2 years old.
Born on Nov. 1, 1994, she came into the world as a preacher’s daughter. A turning point came in Carter’s life when she reached the age of 2 and had a massive stroke that left her with paralysis on her right side. She was left with hardly any usable mobility in her hand and struggled to properly walk. But that didn’t stop her, and her survival alone was documented by Duke Hospital as nothing short of a miracle.
As Carter grew, she would turn into an avid hunter with a great respect for wildlife. She has taken what she would say were several great trophies — including deer, bear, and turkey — but never in her deepest dreams could she have ever expected the outcome that the woods of Bladen County would bring on that dreary Saturday morning of April 18, 2015.
It was the second weekend of the North Carolina turkey season. Carter, her dad and brother were set up in a wood line overlooking a field. Early in the morning, the woods of Bladen are filled with activity including squirrels, deer, and, on this particular day, the sound of her brother’s hungry stomach.
At around 7:30 a.m., and after several tree clucks (a term used for calling to roosting turkeys), a hen flew down about 20 yards in the field. Carter was excited to see the hen, as she could only anticipate what might come off the roost after her. It wouldn’t take long before a long-beard would show up strutting his stuff toward the jake and hen decoy that Carter’s brother had set out.
It was Carter’s turn to shoot, and she had her gun nestled in the fork of a tree so it could act as an extra hand. It was plain to see that this gobbler was King of the Spring, but the biggest surprise was yet to come. The gobbler came in range and, better yet, came in line with Carter’s gun. Carter took a deep breath, said a quick prayer and pulled the trigger. The smell of gun powder overwhelmed the air. The big gobbler was down, and the celebration between Carter, dad and brother began.
When they reached the huge bird, something else was revealed that could not be seen earlier due to the rain-dampened gobbler. Carter knelt down with eyes as big as saucers and counted.
“Four beards,” she screamed with excitement.
When the turkey finally dried out and the taxidermist examined him, he found that the turkey actually had an incredible five beards. Carter’s dad was so excited that he called the National Wild Turkey Federation, which wanted the bird registered with proof and documentation. The turkey scored an amazing 134.875. In turkey terms, that’s one big bird. He weighed a whopping 22 pounds, had a total beard length of 45.1875 inches, and had spurs of 1¼ inch and 1 inch.
The turkey also scored No. 1 in the state of North Carolina for women and fifth in the United States for women.
Carter is proof that through courage and faith a person truly can do anything. Carter would be the first to say that the woods of Bladen hold some awesome hidden treasures. After all, she has one in her living room as proof.