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Call of the Wild Turkey

Rick Ferlita expresses life-long pursuit

Chloe-Amelie Aikman, Staff Writer

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Some may recognize this scene: four walls, an army of forward-facing desks and the solemn reflection of a clean whiteboard.  

But in this particular classroom – turkey feathers perch above a chalkboard, camouflage dots the class perimeter and a variety of hunting, fishing and outdoorsman tokens adorn the space that is Rick Ferlita’s work place. 

An outdoor enthusiast and Pre-Calculus teacher, Ferlita has been engaged in the hunting and fishing world since childhood – one of his most loved activities being turkey hunting. He and his father have leased a swatch of land in Georgia for the past 34 years to pursue their shared interest, and the appeal of being in the woods calls to Ferlita about 20 to 25 times a year in the trips he makes to seek an experience without compare. 

“Being in the woods before sunrise, and all of a sudden the sun comes up and the woods become alive, the birds, the squirrels, the chipmunks…the woods is like my church. That’s where I go to be who I am,” Ferlita said. 

Hunting itself is only the beginning. For the past twenty years, Ferlita has channeled his love for his pastime through the creation of handmade turkey calls; each starting as a solid block of wood, then meticulously hollowed out and carefully constructed to harness the sound of the wild turkey. 

…the woods is like my church. That’s where I go to be who I am.”

— Rick Ferlita

Calls lie at the center of turkey hunting, and Ferlita has been recognized at national and regional levels for his craft – earning fifth place nationally in a scratch box making competition as well as taking third and fourth places regionally.  If there’s one thing Ferlita’s famous for though, at least amongst the students, it’s the long-awaited Turkey Day held on the Friday before Spring Break. 

On this day, during the lull of pre-Break anticipation, Ferlita uses this opportunity to offer another unique educational experience to students. Bringing feathers, calls and the history of the North American Wild Turkey with him, he offers an instructional point of view on a subject many are not exposed to. 

“My students love it. The non-hunters and even the anti-hunters – I’ve had many on them say, “My whole life I’ve been totally against hunting, and at least now I can understand a little bit more about why you’re so passionate about what you do.” You’re not trying to change anybody’s opinion, you’re just trying to show them the other side of things,” Ferlita said. 

It is in this spirit that Ferlita maintains his tradition of wearing camo every Friday. 

“My room is decorated with all hunting and camouflage and fishing stuff, and I wear camo every Friday because, it just shows my personality as an outdoorsman, as a person – not just as a teacher,” said Ferlita. 

Ferlita continues to follow his life-long devotion and plans on hunting in Texas this coming spring.

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Call of the Wild Turkey