Approaching 150 and Twenty Years of Turkey Hunting: Part 3

Go West Young Man: Chapter 2

Chapter two starts off right where we left off last time. I had just picked up Chris and his gobbler. After he told his “Crazy” story, we continued the day’s hunt.

Windy Day Gobblers

With the wind still blowing pretty hard we knew the turkeys would be out in the big fields so we drove around to see if we could spot a gobbler. We also wanted to check on the others guys. As we were driving we got a text from Rob telling us he was at the road. So we headed toward Rob’s location glassing fields along the way. We drove by a large pasture and I spotted several turkeys along a fence line next to some patchy woods. I stopped to check them out and my inspection revealed only hens. I was about to leave when Chris said, “Gobbler! He is on the edge of the woods about ten yards to the right of the hens.” After seeing him myself, I pulled down the road a quarter mile just past where the woods started. I got out, grabbed my shot gun, and headed toward him. If the birds would hang around I knew I would have a good chance to get in front of them and should get close enough for a shot with the wind blowing the way it was. I quickly circled around through the patchy timber to where I thought the birds would be. There they were, but they were still sixty yards or so ahead of me. However, to my surprise, there were two big gobblers in the flock. One was in full strut with the wind literally blowing him sideways. Once the birds worked their way behind a large clump of brush, I quickly crawled up and around another clump of brush into position where I hoped to be in shotgun range of one of the gobblers. When the first long beard walked out in front of me, I let the tungsten alloy shot fly, putting the big gobbler on his back. From the time I saw the gobbler to the time I pulled the trigger only 15 minutes had passed, and I made it back to the road just in time to meet Chris and Rob with the truck.

We had two birds in less than two hours of hunting. I considered that to be a pretty good day of hunting at that point. I couldn’t have dreamed that the day would get even better. After taking a short break at lunch, we headed back to turkey country to find another bird. Now with all four of us glassing fields from the truck, we were sure to spot another gobbler. It didn’t take long to spot a group of four gobblers in an unplanted bean field. The birds were feeding midway down the edge of a field. This was a perfect chance for Austin or Rob to get a shot. We dropped them off at the edge of the creek. All they had to do was get in the creek, walk down it a couple hundred yards, pop up and shoot one. Chris and I went across the bridge and pulled in at the gate. We quickly walked around to the back side of the field so we could watch the show. It took the other guys several minutes, but finally through the binoculars we watched one of the birds pile up with a shot that rang out soon after. Austin had put the smack down on his first Kansas gobbler.

With Austin pumped up about his kill, he offered to skip out on the afternoon hunt and stay at the cabin to fry up his turkey for us. Three gobblers down and Austin is going to cook supper for us. Man, could this day get any better? The answer to that question was yes! Since it was only two hours or so of hunting time left before roosting time, the plan for the rest of us was to get setup in some of the fields that was next to roosting areas. After dropping Rob off at his field, which was already loaded with turkeys, Chris and I decided to hunt a field that was not visible from the road. We hunted a bird there the day before with no luck. Since it was getting close to roost time we entered the property on the river side with hopes there would be some turkeys close by to roost in the big trees on the edge of the field and river.


The Hunt of the Year

After we made our way across the river, we crawled up to the field’s corner to find several turkeys feeding just fifty yards away. However, they were headed to the left. With the wind still blowing Kansas style, I knew we could get away with a lot of noise so we quickly crawled back to the river and paralleled the turkeys with plenty of brush between us and the turkeys. Once we got on the other side of the birds we went to our knees again and crawled up to the field edge. We immediately could see hens and jakes in front of us. Then Chris said, “Gobblers! Two of them, but they are headed back to the right.” So again we crawled back to the river, paralleled the turkeys, and back onto our knees where we crawled up to the corner and the field edge. I eased my head up to see several turkeys with one big gobbler in full strut, and another just to his left slightly behind in half strut only forty yards away. I told Chris to shot the one on the right and I would shoot the one on the left. I then told him when I count to three we will shoot together. I have done this before with other hunting partners, with lots of success, just not with Chris. “Ready”, I asked him. “Yes”, he softy replied. We shouldered our guns and slowly eased into position. Just as I started to count Chris said, “Which one are you going to shoot”, “The one on the left”, I reaffirmed to him. “The strutter?” he asked. “No, you shoot the strutter and I am going to shoot the one behind the strutter”, I nervously told him. What I didn’t know at the time was he could see a third gobbler to his right and he just wanted to make sure we didn’t shoot the same gobbler. One, Two, THREE…BOOOM! As we crossed over the fence the high fiving, fist pumping, and jig dancing began as two giant gobblers lay dead on the ground. Chris’ bird had a 10¾” beard with 1 1/8” spurs and mine had an 11½” beard with 1¼” spurs. As we shouldered our gobblers a “Thank you Lord!” and a “Praise Him!” was shouted out before we crossed back over the fence and headed to the truck. The Lord definitely saved the best hunt for last.


Later that night, as we all sat around the table to eat some fine fried gobbler, we reflected on the day’s accomplishments and misfortunes. We discussed the importance in being at the right place at the right time. We talked about just how much noise and movement you can get away with when the wind is blowing hard. We chatted about how early these birds gobble out west compared to our Mississippi birds. We also discussed these turkey’s roosting habits and how over ninety percent of the time they are going to roost over water. We even made the argument that a good pair of binoculars is more important than calls when hunting out west. But most of all we just enjoyed being able to be together as friends and take pleasure in the two common dominators we all shared: The love of hunting turkeys and the love of Christ.

My Twentieth Year’s Conclusions

This was my last successful hunt of the year. I was only able to hunt two more days after my Kansas trip before my hunting funds ran out and my vacation days were used up. I finished the season harvesting eleven turkeys. A very successful season by anyone’s standards, but five birds shy of 150. However, as I look back on my 145 kills and twenty years of hunting success, I have to give my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ all the glory and credit. He has given me the ability to hunt. He has given me the opportunity to go to all the places I hunt. Most importantly, He has put me within a “hunting community”, my friends and hunting partners, who make the hunting experience ever so special.

I hope you enjoyed these few hunting stories I’ve shared that pretty much sum up my twenty years of hunting turkeys. More importantly, I hope you learned a little something from my time in the turkey woods that will help you this spring or the next to put more fried gobbler in your belly.

God Bless and Happy Hunting.

Posted by Mark Newell

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