Typical Turkey - Modern Firearm Record

1. Bill Shields 63-12/16 2004

My story really begins in the spring of 2003 when Shawn Skinner, a friend from Port Hope, began telling me how exciting turkey hunting was. I knew we had a lot of turkeys in the area so I told him to come down. He said he would show me what it was like if we could get permission for some land to hunt. I found some land so Shawn came down and took me out hunting. We shot a jake that day and between the calling, and the waryness of the turkey, I got really excited and even felt that this was more exciting than deer hunting. That experience hooked me enough that I took my turkey course in the Spring of 2004 and eagerly waited for the opener.

I landed permission for a property just minutes from my home in Hastings County, which had numerous turkeys on it. I explained to Shawn that I had an awesome piece of land for this years hunt. Plans were made and he came out the night before the opener to do some scouting with me. We headed out to an area where I figured they were roosting and as we pulled into the farmers yard we had approximately 60 to 70 turkeys in front of us. Shawn made the decision that we should back out of the field and wait until morning.

That night I was filled with so much excitement I was unable to sleep. The morning came quickly; once we had a bite to eat we headed out to the farm to begin the season. Leaving the truck at the farmhouse we headed off to where we watched the turkeys cross the night before. We put our decoys out, got settled in to our spots and waited for the turkeys to make their appearance.

Approximately half an hour after sitting down, the woods to our right exploded with gobbling. It sounded like every tree had a tom in it. When they decided to come out of the trees they landed in the field to our right. They strutted around for what seemed like hours waiting for the hens to come down. When the hens finally landed in the field they appeared as if they had an agenda on their mind and a destination in their eyes. As they walked up the field in our direction the toms were not too far behind. The flock seemed enormous. There must have been more than 70 birds in front of us. As they reached the corner of the fence they hung up approximately 80 to 90 yards away. It seemed like hours before the hens decided to move and once they did, they moved into some pines and disappeared. We were hoping they would come back as we attempted some calling, but to no avail; they headed in another direction. We waited there until the last hour that we could hunt that day and they never returned so we headed home.

At least we knew where to be the following morning. We were disappointed but optimistic for the following morning’s hunt. The next morning we were again split up, I sat where I was the previous day and Shawn went to sit down at the corner where they would cross. That morning the woods again exploded with gobbles as the toms landed in the field and the hens flew down as they did the previous day. The hens had the same agenda; this time however there was someone waiting in their path. As the birds rounded the corner, I heard a bang from the shotgun and Shawn shot a beautiful tom. I was very happy for him but I was unsuccessful for the day.

The following day I went out by myself and sat in the same corner that Shawn shot his turkey the previous day. I expected to get my first Tom. The birds followed the same pattern as they had previously and behind the hens was a nice big tom. He lifted his head up to look around and I shot him. The beard was approximately 9 inches and the bird weighed about 23 pounds and I was very proud of him.

A couple days later with my second seal, I again went out to try my luck, only this day was totally different. That morning when the toms started to gobble they were on both sides of me. There were a bunch of turkeys that jumped down to my left approximately 100 yards away. I then realized that they were all jakes.

As they were out there gobbling, strutting and chasing each other I heard a turkey come out of the roost to my right. As soon as he hit the ground he ran up towards the other birds and started strutting.

When he broke out of strut and started walking in front of me I noticed that he had a long beard hanging down and it even looked like it might be dragging behind him. As I was trembling with anticipation I took aim and shot. At first I noticed nice spurs on the bird, but nothing could prepare me for the excitement when I actually saw the beard in my hands. This beard was enormous! It took me a few minutes to compose myself after which, I was able to tag my prize and take him to the nearest weigh-in station. The gentleman measured the beard at 18 ¾” and the spurs at 1-5/8”.

Call it beginners luck on this turkey hunt, but I can tell you beginners luck or not, this is one hunt I will never forget.

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