I have hunted turkeys in the past but usually I hunt only one day during my season and call it quits because I guess I am not what you would call a diehard turkey hunter. I have taken a total of two toms in the past with my gun but never have seriously hunted with my bow for turkeys until this year. I had retired from one of my part-time jobs at the beginning of the month so I thought this would give me a better opportunity to hunt with my bow this year knowing it would probably be difficult to harvest one with the bow.
The turkeys had been wintering on our property this year and I would typically see at least 20 toms and just as many hens for most of the winter right behind our house and the adjoining fields. I knew these birds would not be this numerous come hunting season and I sure was right. As soon as the weather warmed up around the first of April I rarely saw a bird or heard any toms gobbling. To complicate things, the farmer who leases our land tilled up all of the farm fields on our property.
I had low expectations for a successful turkey season using my bow so the weekend before my season started I placed my portable blind near the middle of the property.
My first couple days of turkey season were pretty uneventful, watching two hens following the same path to the creek, moving my blind around and finally seeing a tom following the two hens. But late Friday afternoon I saw a big tom hanging around my food plot.
So I decided to hunt out of my blind I have on this food plot Saturday morning and heard a faint gobble to the west of me. After listening for a while it sounded like this bird was on the move but not getting closer to me. I kept looking to where the two hens always came from and it wasn’t too long before I spotted them with a long beard in tow. They were, as usual, working their way to the south right to the creek although this day they decided to walk further away from me to the creek edge. I kept looking in that direction for any of the three to perhaps sneak up the creek edge toward me. While watching for them, I kept hearing this other tom gobble every once in a while and it sounded like he was getting closer to me. I decided to try to get out my box call and see what happens. I figured I had nothing to lose. I gave a couple of yelps on the call and waited. Within a few minutes I saw the three turkeys that were by the creek now working their way down the field edge toward me. At this point I focused my attention to them and kind of forgot about this other gobbler.
After several minutes of watching these three, they were getting really getting close to bow range and I was getting pretty excited thinking that I may really have a chance at this tom. About the time I thought this, I was again hearing the other tom and he was extremely close to me. I looked out the other side of my blind and cresting the hill about 50 yards from me stood this big tom surveying the situation. The two hens were now behind me dusting themselves in the plowed field and the tom with them was now behind a small rock pile, out of sight from the tom on the hill. I had my hen decoy set up sitting directly on the ground in the food plot.
The hill top tom now started to strut for these hens but I don’t think they were too interested in him. After they finished their dust bath they started to slowly work their way toward my location once again but this time they would be heading almost directly at the base of my blind. This drew out the tom that was with them originally away from his secluded spot behind the rock pile, but now in sight of the tom on the hill.
I believe the tom on the hill must have been the dominant bird because as soon he saw the other tom he went right after him. He ran on a full sprint directly at him and that first tom flew straight up and over the dominant bird and landed several yards away from him. I guess this was still too close because once again he charged at him and this time landed right top of him. That seemed to be enough of a battle for the other tom as he took flight again, this time flying out of sight.
The hens paid little attention to all this commotion as they were now right next to my decoy just slowly feeding their way back toward the creek. Now that the tom had gotten rid of any competition he set his sights on these hens. He now was strutting around trying to get the attention of these ladies. He kept getting closer toward my decoy which would offer up the best shot for me. As the tom seemed to take forever to get in sight of my window opening he finally appeared. I drew back for the shot but he turned away leaving the window opening. I had to let the arrow down and wait once again for him to come back in this opening. At last he did and was still in full strut. I drew back yet again and placed the 20 yard pin on him as he was perfectly broadside to me and let the arrow fly. Down he went! I could not believe it! There laid this big tom turkey, my first ever with a bow.
I called my wife and had my daughter, Lauren would drive back on our ATV because I thought she would be interested in seeing this bird and also she probably wouldn’t believe that I really did get one. After tagging the bird we were admiring the nice long paint brush beard and his long, sharp spurs. As we were looking it over further we noticed he had what appeared to be another beard. We both thought that was interesting but didn’t give it a second thought. I was still more astonished that I was able to get one with my bow. We took a few pictures and loaded him up on the ATV and went back to the house.
After having lunch I spoke with my brother-in-law Greg Young to tell him the story and to see if he would skin him out for me. I took the turkey over to his house to show him and my nephew Eric was looking the bird all over and mentioned that it had several beards. I told him I did see that it had more than one but he exclaimed there were five total! He remembered earlier in the year, when these birds were flocked together, seeing one particular bird that had multiple beards and long spurs. He said I should get this scored because after he gave it a quick measure, looked up the record book and said it might be close to the Shiawassee County record.
I took the turkey the next day to Buck Hagy, an official CBM scorer, and he measured it. After I returned back home Buck gave me a call and informed me that he checked the record books as to where my bird would place and he said that I probably had the new state record for a multi-bearded turkey taken with a bow, and by seven inches! I could not believe it. He said that I had to have it rescored by a panel of three official scorers to verify this. The next day I took it back over to them and the three of them scored it once again. My official score was 40.6 inches which measures all five beards plus the length of the spurs.
I was sure glad I decided to try to bow hunt this year and also thankful that I listened to my nephew Eric to have this bird scored!