On the first anniversary of his stomach bypass surgery, it's been a banner year for Travis "T-bone" Turner, including the arrival of a "Little T-bone."
It's been more than a year (Oct. 12, 2004) since Travis Turner (aka Realtree's "T-bone") had stomach bypass surgery at Atlanta Medical Center and his weight continues to drop. He and his wife Michelle also have further reason to celebrate, with the arrival of their first child, Archer Brian Turner, born on September 25 of this year. "We'd been trying to have a baby for a couple years, so we were elated when she got pregnant. Before the baby was born I jokingly mentioned the name 'Archer' to Michelle, not sure if she'd like it or not. We'd decided not to name the boy after anyone in the family since we didn't want anyone to feel hurt. After a couple weeks, she said she really liked the name, and that was that. We gave him the middle name of my best friend." Indeed, from this writer's view, Archer is a fitting name for an offspring of such an avid bowhunter as Travis Turner.
"The past year has really been a banner one for us. I sold my archery business and went to work at Gun Country Outdoors, which has given me more free time. I had my successful surgery and keep seeing my weight go down and my energy go up. And now I have a son. It's been an awesome year for us. Things have been going great for 'T-bone.'"
Thanks to the surgery, exercise and diet, Travis has seen his weight steadily decline from the 544 pounds he tipped the scales on Oct. 7, 2004, to 501 pounds on Oct. 20, and down to 379 pounds on April 30, 2005. He now weighs 330 lbs and says in his usual humorous way, 'that's about four bags of corn I've lost.' His goal is to get down to around 240 to 250. "I'm 6'3 and big-framed," he notes, "So I know I'm never going to be a small guy." Travis says his final step will be skin reduction surgery, which will likely be done following the 2006.
With the new baby, his work at Gun Country Outdoors in LaGrange, Georgia, plus his scheduled hunting trips to film TV segments for Realtree this fall, Travis hasn't had to worry about keeping busy. "I knew the weight would come off slower as time went along, and I also didn't want to lose it too fast." Travis and Michael Waddell left in late October to do three back-to-back deer hunts, starting in Texas, then to Illinois and then on to Ohio.
Travis is never one to brag or get too full of himself, as witnessed by the story he told me of a couple local bowhunts he had earlier this fall. "I haven't had much time to hunt so far this fall, and two of my goals are to shoot a Pope & Young buck here in Georgia and also to shoot a doe or any deer with my recurve. Both Michael (Waddell) and I are getting into recurves pretty good now. However, I haven't hunted hardly at all with my recurve, so I told myself that this year I'd hunt my own property and use the recurve. I'd been practicing all summer with it and was shooting pretty tight groups. So I was pretty confident.
"So I grabbed the recurve and I set up on my property behind my house that overlooks a food plot. A coyote came in and I flat missed it at about 18 yards, the arrow going right over its back. But I figured a coyote's a pretty small target, so I wasn't concerned. Then a doe came in. You know how sometimes you think 'if a deer comes in, I hope it appears right there and offers a perfect shot?' Well, that's what this doe did, at 16 yards, and I was already planning to contact my buddy after the shot to help track and load it in the truck. I drew and shot right over its back. It ran off, but then came back and offered me an 18-yard shot. I was way off on that shot, the arrow going between its ears.
"By now, I was disgusted with how badly I'd shot--three misses and I had just one arrow left. So I got down out of my stand a bit early and started walking back toward the house. It was low light by then, and I spotted a deer feeding under a crabapple tree at about 23 yards. I could hardly believe I'd gotten that close to it. So I talked myself through making a good shot on this one. I missed, shooting under it this time. I couldn't believe it. Since I started bowhunting in the mid '80s, I don't think I've missed more than a total of four times with a compound in all those years. And here I'd just missed three deer, plus a coyote, all in just one afternoon. It was very humbling."
Travis had a chance to redeem himself a week later, when he hunted Jeff Foxworthy's land to thin out some of the excess does there. "This time I carried the compound because I wanted to get ready for the filmed hunts I'd soon be going on. I met Glenn Garner, who used to be a cameraman with Realtree and now manages Foxworthy's land. When I got to the stand that afternoon, the deer were already in the fields, which are made up of some standing corn and food plots. I shot the first doe. Then a second doe. With them down, I wondered how many they wanted me to take, so I called Glenn on my cell phone and told him I'd taken two. He said, 'Keep shooting as long as you've got arrows.' I then shot the third doe at 32 yards, and soon after a fourth at a bit farther away. I could've shot two more, but I was out of arrows. Man, I was in a zone that afternoon.
"As if that wasn't enough, a few days later a new cameraman for Realtree who lives near me--he's originally from Ohio--asked if he could tag along on one of my local hunts since he'd never filmed an actual hunt before and had been practicing with anyone who'd take him along. I was off work one day and told him he could join me to practice his filming while I hunted my land that afternoon. Two days earlier Hoyt had sent me a new model bow, the Trikon, to try (Note: The new Trikon compound model will be available in November). The day before we hunted, I'd set it up and sighted it in, so I decided to try it that next day. Well, we got to the stand and got set up. It wasn't long before a coyote--probably the same one I missed--came in. This time I didn't miss. We never saw any deer that afternoon because of the coyote, but after that one miserable afternoon of missing with the recurve, I proved to myself I could still shoot--and with a new bow."
The T-bone Meter
DATE WEIGHT Oct. 7, 2004 544 lbs (Prior to surgery) Oct. 20, 2004 501 lbs (Following 10/12 surgery) April 30, 2005 379 lbs Oct.20, 2005 330 lbs Total lbs Lost 214 lbs
T-Bone And Michael Waddell's Recurve Arrow Setup
Carbon shafts, 125-grain Razor-Cap broadheads; Total weight 520 grains, back-weighted with 270 grains of front weight for spine breakdown; Arrows generate about 43 foot lbs of kinetic energy @ 65 lbs.
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