The big turkey eater had stayed in the same place for a long time, motionless.
He was behind a tree, I couldn’t see him very well and, of course, I was in a twisted position. My discomfort was getting worse by the second and I knew I couldn’t move (turkey hunters will understand). My buddy Dave Miller was planted next to me and he wasn’t moving either. Minutes crawled like eons in a beautiful Missouri creek bottom.
Oh wait, I forgot, when we stopped on this story, we were in the middle of Miller dealing with a turkey, not me. For those who might be behind on reading this little adventure, I went to Missouri a few weeks ago to go turkey hunting with shotgun guru Miller.
Miller, you may recall, is the shotgun product manager and professional shooter for CZ-USA, a Kansas City-based gun manufacturer that makes some pretty amazing shotguns. I’ve turkey hunted with Miller for the past few years and it’s always a good time. You can always count on Miller to provide the two most important ingredients for any turkey hunt. One, he’ll put you in the turkeys, and two, he’ll make sure you’re well fed!
Anyway, the last time you’ll remember, Miller put his nose to a fearsome field turkey (with a huge beard). I was an observer, seated in the front row. Miller had to do a low crawl across the rain-soaked field to get into position and when he unfurled his “harvesting” umbrella, which features a large full-leg gobbler. The big gobbler started his way without delay.
I watched in amazement as this turkey walked quickly towards what he considered an intruder in his playground. The turkey went from 100 yards to 75 yards, mostly full leg; this turkey filled the gap. I watched in amazement, as I always do when the “venting” or harvesting technique works. I can’t believe this fat turkey is gonna walk straight into the danger zone. But he did. I thought Miller would let him get closer, but at about 55 yards, boom! The gobbler was down. I mean, he didn’t even kick. Remington Premier TSS loads and the CZ-USA Reaper Magnum shotgun he was using did the job.
Well, as usual, there were lots of high fives and congratulations. He was a handsome, tall gobbler from Missouri with a brush-like beard. They grow them here in Missouri. This turkey weighed 24¼ pounds. We have gobblers this big in the mountains where I live in West Virginia, but it’s pretty rare. We got Miller’s turkey in the truck, what about me now?
We decide to head down the creek to this beautiful property that Miller found. Just before descending the hill, we decide to call just to be careful and a resounding rumble greets us in the direction we were going. I call a few minutes later and another goblet sounds, this time closer. This turkey is coming!
Now a wild scuffle ensues as we try to hide before the turkey appears. An old barn or shed is right in our path, and we quickly swim and peek out the back window. You now know where we were when I started telling you about this part of the adventure. Miller is to my right with a rangefinder, whispering updates to me on the yard line the turkey is on. I am, as usual, in a tense position and, of course, I cannot move.
I think several civilizations may have risen and fallen while we waited for this turkey to move, but Miller said it was only a few minutes. Finally, finally, the tall gobbler took a few hesitant steps and began to move forward. Looking at the gobbler through the Vortex Venom red dot optics, I realize that it is moving at an angle and will soon go too far to my right and probably end up behind some brush. All turkey hunters know this scenario – the turkey does not come close, it can get behind something and change its address. It’s now or never. “62 meters”, breathes Miller. I put the dot on the gobbler’s neck, say a quick prayer, and pull the trigger. The shotgun roars and I lose sight of the turkey for a moment.
Miller laughs in excitement and the gobbler is down like he’s been hit with an anvil. The Remington TSS and the Reaper Magnum scored again. Even if he doesn’t move, I get to the turkey as fast as I can and thank heaven for giving me the chance to catch another beautiful wild turkey. This one is nearly a twin to Miller’s bird, though it’s a quarter pound lighter and its beard isn’t as big. I don’t care, it’s a big, beautiful gobbler from Missouri, and I’m so lucky to be here with good friends, good shotguns, and enjoying nature with both of them.
As I drive home I study the clouds and think of my friend Miller, a shotgun wizard, his line of CZ-USA shotguns and how our record with the Missouri gobblers has been very successful. We can’t maintain that 100% average, I tell myself, but I think that’s okay.
I know there must be some BBQ’s we haven’t visited yet.
Larry Case is a retired West Virginia Department of Natural Resources captain and lifelong outdoorsman. Larry writes for several newspapers and magazines. His website is www.gunsandcornbread.com and you can reach him at [email protected]