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Tagged Out: Big Turkeys Taken During the 2024 Spring Season

Here are some of the biggest turkeys taken this season, as reported in our Regional Strut Update.

Tagged Out: Big Turkeys Taken During the 2024 Spring Season
Michael Lee of Backwoods Life and his father pose with two nice gobblers tagged in Georgia in early April. (Photo courtesy of Michael Lee)

Throughout the spring turkey hunting season, our weekly Regional Strut Update field reports included "Tagged Out" features on big gobblers taken across the country.

Here’s a look at great turkey harvests by hunters from Maine to California to Florida and elsewhere. Compiled by Regional Strut Update correspondents Doug Howlett, Josh Honeycutt, Brandon Butler and Andrew McKean.

Cody Franchini | California
turkey hunting boy and mom
Cody Franchini's first turkey made a proud mom out of Chrissy (right). (Photo courtesy of Chrissy Franchini)

Ten-year-old Cody Franchini, along with his mom Chrissy, was blessed with an invitation to hunt private land near Calistoga, Calif., the day before Mother’s Day. Though the pair heard gobbles all around them at first light, no turkeys committed to their calls until a solo hen brought a couple gobblers to their set-up. That hen turned out to be the best decoy the Franchinis could have asked for.

Cody missed his first shot at just 8 yards, shooting a little high with his Stevens Model 301 .410 bore. But the young hunter regained his composure, reloaded and “stoned him on his second shot at about 20 yards,” says Chrissy. The bird had an 11-inch beard, 1 1/4-inch spurs and weighed 19 pounds.

It’s the first bird ever for Cody. As for Chrissy, she says, “One proud mom over here for sure. He’s definitely hooked.”

Scott Easley | Tennessee
turkey hunter
Scott Easley tagged this late-season Tennessee turkey on May 2. (Photo courtesy of Scott Easley)

Tennessee hunter Scott Easley didn’t let late-season challenges get in the way of bagging a nice Volunteer State gobbler on May 2. “I got on this bird on the roost and killed him at 11:15 a.m.,” Easley says. “He couldn’t have cared less about anything but feeding. So, I spent that whole time walking and crawling to get ahead of him. When I finally did, he had joined up with five jakes. They got within 50 yards, and I shot as soon as he walked away from them.” The bird had a 10 1/2-inch beard, 3/4-inch spurs and weighed 17.9 pounds.

Steve Martic | Connecticut
Steve Martic had a turkey season to remember. First, he took this tom in New Brunswick’s first spring season that allowed nonresidents to participate.
Martic, after his success north of the border, returned home to Connecticut and took this huge gobbler (left) just days later. He finished his spring to remember in Rhode Island (right) on the final day of the season.

Steve Martic has enjoyed a whirlwind couple of weeks, making the most of nearby state—and international—borders to maximize his bird hunting opportunities. Martic was one of 50 nonresident hunters who were fortunate enough to draw a tag to hunt New Brunswick’s first spring season that allowed nonresidents to participate. He scored on May 14, his first morning out. He then returned home to Connecticut and took a huge gobbler just days later (May 17) before jumping across the state line to fill his tag on another tom in Rhode Island on the last day of the Ocean State season (May 19). While some hunters may be wishing they had a better season, Martic won’t be among that crowd.

Andre Oulette | Maine
Maine hunter Andre Oulette and outfitter John LeMarca (standing) pose with a tom taken on May 22.

Maine hunter Andre Oulette (kneeling) poses with his trophy tom he took while hunting with outfitter John LeMarca (standing) in the first hours of daylight on May 22. The 2-year-old tom, which had an 8 1/2-inch beard and 3/4-inch spurs and tipped the scales at 19 pounds, crested a hill in a field 300 yards away, heard their calls, spotted their gobbler decoy and worked his way into range of Oulette’s .410 shotgun and TSS loads. LeMarca reports the tom “dropped in its tracks.”

“It’s a beautiful time of year, where the hens are less interested in the toms and a lot of hunters have also given up because they got tired of dealing with toms that were henned up,” says LaMarca. “The upshot is we now have dumber turkeys to hunt and less hunters to contend with—a wonderful combo.”

Alisha Sichik | Vermont
turkey hunter Alisha Sichik
New Jersey hunter Alisha Sichik with her big Vermont turkey. (Photo courtesy of Alisha Sichik)

Alisha Sichik of New Jersey scored on this big Vermont tom (9-inch beard; 1-inch spurs; 19 pounds) on May 3 with the help of her father, David, calling the strutter into their decoys.

Will Brantley | Nebraska
turkey hunters at camp
Outdoor writer Will Brantley (right) made quick work in tagging this big Nebraska gobbler. (Photo courtesy of Will Brantley)

Outdoor industry veteran Joe Arterburn hosts an annual wall-tent turkey camp in the wilds of Custer County, Nebraska. An invitation is hard to come by, but being one of the best outdoor writers in the business earned Will Brantley a coveted golden ticket.

“The [May 6] hunt was short and sweet,” says Brantley of his turkey with 9-inch beard, 1-inch spurs and weighed 19 pounds. “My guide Logan and I took a little scouting drive the first evening and saw two strutters with a group of hens up on a ridge. We made a wide circle around them, set up under a cedar and did some blind calling. Ten minutes later, the whole flock came in silently, with both gobblers in full strut.”


John LaMarca | Maine
turkey hunter
John LaMarca, a Maine hunting guide, took down these two gobblers on April 29. (Photo courtesy of John LaMarca)

Maine guide John LaMarca has several properties where he has permission to take clients and a few where the landowners are fine with him hunting, just not guiding. Waiting for some out-of-state hunters to arrive on opening day on April 29 in Sagadahoc County, Maine, LaMarca stopped by one of those hunt-only properties and found two toms eager to come to his calls. He didn’t turn the opportunity down, and his season ended almost as quickly as it began—with a heavy bird in each hand. They had 10 1/2- and 9 3/4-inch beards, 7/8- and 1-inch spurs, and weighed 20 pounds each.

Oliver Lilly | Maine
young turkey hunter
Eleven-year-old Oliver Lilly killed his first turkey on May 4 in Waldo County, Maine. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Lilly)

It had been a rough spring for Oliver Lilly, 11, who broke his arm earlier in the year and could not play baseball. His spirits were elevated, however, when he received a 20-gauge over-under for his birthday from his grandfather. Oliver was determined to hunt turkeys with his new shotgun, and his father, Ryan, helped him pattern it in preparation for the upcoming season. Oliver and his brother, Bronson, camped out with their father the night before the opener, sleeping in a tent about 200 yards from the blind they had set up on a friend’s farm. With Maine’s early sunrise, legal shooting time began before 5 a.m. on May 4, and the boys and their dad didn’t want to be a minute late.

The trio of hunters were in the blind by 4 o’clock the next morning with a jake and a breeding hen decoy placed 15 yards in front them. Several gobblers sounded off as it got light, and one pitched down in the large field about a quarter-mile from the blind. For the next 20 minutes, the bird strutted and gobbled to Ryan’s soft calling, slowly making its way toward the blind. When the bird was a mere 10 yards from him, Oliver put his new shotgun to good use and dropped the tom beside the decoys. Oliver’s first gobbler came early; the time was just 5:35 a.m.

John Wallace | Ohio
turkey and hunter
This Ohio turkey tagged by John Wallace weighed 21 pounds. (Photo courtesy of John Wallace)

“I hunted hard this past week,” John Wallace says. “I first got on this bird Thursday, May 2nd. I set up within 100 yards of him on the roost, and to my surprise, he was pretty fired up on the roost. Things have been quiet lately. After fly down, he went the opposite direction and gave a couple more gobbles before going quiet.”

Wallace is a hunting industry influencer who runs the website and its corresponding social channels. It may sound like all fun and games, but he has many deadlines to meet, especially during the prime hunting seasons. Work kept him out of the woods for a couple days, but he made it back out on Saturday and heard the gobbler only once—a shock gobble after a rumble of thunder. That was enough to convince him to give the bird another shot on Sunday afternoon. The bird had an 11-inch beard, 1 5/16-inch spurs and weighed 21 pounds.

Scott and Sherry Haeger | Oregon
man and woman turkey hunters
Washington hunters Sherry (left) and Scott Haeger traveled to Oregon to tag these Rio Grande turkeys. (Photo courtesy of the Haegers)

Scott and Sherry Haeger traveled to southwest Oregon from their home in Snohomish, Wash., to hunt with Jody Smith of Jody Smith Guide Service. The couple took this brace of trophy Rio Grande gobblers from a ground blind while hunting over a jake-and-hen decoy combo. Stats: 10 1/2-inch beard, 1-inch spurs (Sherry); 10-inch double beard, 1 ¼-inch spurs (Scott).

Brantley Parah | Vermont
youth hunter
Nine-year-old Brantley Parah tagged his first gobbler during Vermont's youth hunt April 27. (Photo courtesy of Michael Wheeler)

Nine-year-old Brantley Parah, stepson of Vermont hunter and Strut Update intel provider Michael Wheeler, scouted a farm they got permission to hunt the night before last weekend’s youth hunt and roosted three birds right at dark. The young hunter, along with his stepdad and uncle, set up in a fresh timber cut last Saturday close to where they saw the birds fly up the evening before. At sunrise, the three birds—a tom and two jakes—flew down and started gobbling, even coming in close to Brantley. But he wasn’t comfortable with the shot, and when he tried to reposition himself the turkeys got uneasy and began to walk away.

Brantley’s Uncle Jake hit his slate call 5 minutes later and the tom came running back up the valley, splitting away from the jakes and running to within 20 yards of the young hunter, gobbling and fanned out. This time, Brantley took the shot, dropping the gobbler right in his tracks. It marked his very first bird, and the hunt lasted all of 45 minutes. The April 27 bird had 9-inch beard, 5/8-inch spurs and weighed 19 pounds.

Jarred Shelton | Tennessee
Turkey hunter
Tennesseee hunter Jarred Shelton's first turkey weighed 22 pounds and sported an 11 1/2-inch beard. (Photo courtesy of Jarred Shelton)

Jarred Shelton isn’t new to hunting, but this spring he bagged his first turkey on April 19. Given the spur length of the great Tennessee longbeard, it’s likely a 3- or 4-year-old bird. It’s no small feat to kill a turkey in that age class. Bird stats: 11 1/2-inch beard; 1 1/4-inch spurs; 22 pounds.

Vincent Lenning and TJ Diffenderfer | Tennessee
turkey hunters
Tennessee hunters Vincent Lenning and TJ Diffenderfer scored a rare double on April 28; these big gobblers had been banded as jakes in 2023 by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. (Photo courtesy of TJ Diffenderfer).

Hunters Vincent Lenning and TJ Diffenderfer recently experienced the turkey hunt of their lives: They doubled on two banded turkeys on April 28. Incredibly, the turkeys were miles from where they were banded more than a year prior.

“My father-in-law, Vincent Lenning, and I were able to call in four longbeards,” Lenning says. “After working them for a couple hours, we got all four to commit [and shot two of them]. While we were celebrating, we noticed they were banded. To top it off, the band numbers were in numerical order. TWRA sent us certificates that said they were banded as jakes in Trousdale County in February of 2023. We harvested these birds in Wilson County, and the closest point in Trousdale County from where we harvested them is 1.4 miles. They flew the Cumberland River and somehow ended up in our laps a year later.” Bird stats (both): 9 1/2-inch beards; 1-inch spurs; 20 pounds.

David Ray | Indiana
Turkey hunters
Indiana hunter David Ray killed this 23.5-pound gobbler on a hunt with his 85-year-old father. (Photo courtesy of David Ray)

Hunting with your father is always a blessing. However, hunting with him when he is 85 years old, still in great health and helping you while you are on crutches is simply amazing. The Rays are a special family, with a special piece of property—400 acres of forested land in southern Indiana. They’ve cultivated a family belief that the true trophy of the hunt is sharing the experience with people you care about.

“I hunt with my 85-year-old dad as often as I can, but this was the first year I’ve ever hunted on crutches,” says David Ray, a lifelong hunter and conservationist who manages the property for wildlife. “Due to a forestry accident, I am temporarily mobility impaired, but it wasn’t about to keep me out of the turkey woods.”

On Indiana’s opener, David was able to get to his blind with the help of his dad and their UTV. That day, they called a tom and a hen in to 50 yards. However, when the birds saw the decoys, they paused. The hen went into the woods and the tom followed. The next day, the duo called in two toms.

“They strutted and gobbled at 60 yards for over half an hour,” David says. “They would double-gobble at every purr, cluck or yelp. My dad has poor vision and needs them in close to shoot. Since they wouldn't come into the decoys so my dad and I could double, I just ended up shooting a tom.”

It was the first bird David ever shot while sitting beside his dad (he says they didn’t have youth seasons in the 1970s). It was also David’s largest bird ever.

Dale Manning | Montana
turkey hunter
Dale Manning killed this Eastern Montana Merriam's turkey on April 26. (Photo courtesy of Dale Manning)

Dale Manning traveled from Missoula, Mont., to the state’s eastern plains and river breaks for this Merriam’s gobbler killed on April 26. He spotted it about an hour after it flew down from its roost and called it inside 20 yards. Interestingly, the gobbler had feather tips that appeared to have been broken off, possibly by wet snow or brittle cold. The bird had an 8-1/2-inch beard and, typical of eastern Montana’s Merriam’s, very short spurs.

Chase Windley | West Virginia
tagged out turkey
North Carolina hunter Chase Windley tagged this gobbler on April 20 during a turkey trip to West Virginia. (Photo courtesy of Chase Windley)

Chase Windley made the trip from North Carolina to West Virginia to chase Mountain State gobblers over the weekend. He didn’t hear a gobble on Friday, April 19, but Saturday morning was a different story, as he got on a roosted tom gobbling nearly an hour before sunrise. The terrain was a large, grassy field on a ridgetop surrounded by steep banks with trees. He had no choice but to set up near a dirt mount in the middle.

As it began to get light, he discovered he was positioned between four different gobblers. Playing the birds after fly-down, Windley managed to lure three of them within 100 yards—two together and one solo. The pair came rushing in first, and when one strutter lifted its head 25 yards from where Windley was lying in the grass, he coolly put the bead on its neck and squeezed off a shot. The bird had a 10 1/5-inch beard and 1 3/8-inch spurs.

Ashalee Tabor and Scott Ellis | Florida
tagged out turkeys
Ashalee Tabor and Scott Ellis doubled at the end of Florida's turkey season. (Photo courtesy of Scott Ellis)

HuntQuest’s Scott Ellis has been hunting in Florida right up until the season closed last Sunday.

“My girlfriend, Ashalee Tabor, finally got her first gobbler,” Ellis says. “It's been a great journey getting this amazing woman her first turkey. To add the excitement, we doubled on two Osceola hammers!” Bird stats: (Ashalee) 10 1/4-inch beard; 1 1/4-inch spurs; 19 pounds; (Scott) 10- and 5-inch beards; 1 5/16-inch spurs; 17 pounds.

Brodie Swisher | Tennessee
tagged out turkey
Brodie Swisher's Tennessee tom had a 10-inch beard and weighed 21 pounds. (Photo courtesy of Brodie Swisher)

Hunting Roots’ Brodie Swisher tagged a great Tennessee bird in mid-April. After seeing the turkey strut, gobble and work into the call, he picked up the shotgun and sent the turkey flopping. It was a great day in the turkey woods. The bird had a 10-inch beard and 1-inch spurs, and weighed 21 pounds.

Nick Green | Michigan
tagged out turkey
Nick Green's first mature turkey came at the very end of a hunting trip to Michigan on April 20. (Photo courtesy of Nick Green)

Nick Green started the Michigan season as a cameraman, but he desperately wanted to kill his first gobbler. An accomplished sportsman and outdoor communicator, Green is a seasoned pro behind a bird dog, but longbeards have thus far eluded him. “After more than a 100 miles driving, numerous ditches traversed and multiple run-and-gun sits that weren’t productive in the afternoon, I decided it was time to head home defeated with about an hour and a half left of daylight,” Green says. “Then, on our way back to the truck, about a half-mile away in a field, we saw birds working their way back to the roost. We were whooped and tired and not planning to hunt anymore, but we couldn’t resist. Replicating nearly the same thing we did in the morning ended with me posing behind my first mature turkey. I had the whole experience, and it all came full circle.” Bird stats: 10 1/2-inch beard; 1-inch spurs; 24 pounds.

Chris Johnsrud | Idaho
tagged out turkey
Chris Johnsrud took down this huge gobbler in Idaho's Clearwater Region on April 17. (Photo courtesy of Chris Johnsrud)

The first thing you may notice about this hero shot isn’t the handsome Idaho gobbler (10 1/2-inch beard; 1 1/4-inch spurs; 22 pounds). It’s the hunter’s prosthetic leg. That’s right, Chris Johnsrud is an amputee, but that didn’t slow him down on a freelance, DIY trip to Idaho’s Clearwater Region.

It took him a few days to pattern birds and to figure out complicated access, but he found birds on state land. Problem was, he also encountered more mid-week hunters than he expected. So, he transitioned to private land after getting a tip that a few working farmers were complaining about nuisance birds. Johnsrud's eastern gobbler—like most Idaho birds, it has some evidence of hybridization with Rio and Merriam’s subspecies—fell to a dose of Federal No. 5 copper-plated lead shot at about 35 yards on April 17.

Will Cooper | Texas
turkey hunter
Will Cooper killed this Texas turkey right off the roost. (Photo courtesy of Will Cooper)

“Things have fired up here in Texas,” says HuntStand’s Will Cooper after taking a gobbler April 7. “I got to the area where I can hunt on a friend’s property and heard a lone gobbler on his roost. After sitting down where I thought he was, I soon realized I was much closer than anticipated. Luckily, the tom hadn’t seen me set my decoys, and he flew down, giving me a chance. It was a great day in the turkey woods.” A great day, indeed. It was Cooper’s personal best Rio Grande turkey harvest: 11-inch beard; 1 1/4-inch spurs; 23 pounds.

Hadley Lane | Missouri
youth hunter with turkey
Hadley Lane, 14, killed this double-bearded jake during Missouri’s youth season April 6 while hunting with his father, Josh. (Photo courtesy of Josh Lane)

Hadley Lane is becoming a regular ol’ turkey slayer. The 14-year-old from Edwards, Mo., took advantage of the state’s youth season to tag his fourth bird while hunting with his father Josh. This one was a healthy jake. “We tried roosting some birds but couldn’t get one to gobble, and we didn’t hear any fly up. But we did see quite a bit of sign, so we came back in the morning anyway,” Hadley says.

The father-son duo slipped in early and set up in their favorite spot called “The Knob.” “Nothing was gobbling to my owl hooting,” says Josh. “So, we picked a spot and started to just set up our decoys. While we were doing that they started gobbling. There were at least three different birds within 200 yards.”

Josh let out a few soft tree yelps and simulated a fly-down. When the gobblers hit the ground, they came closer but never close enough to see. A hen came into their set, though, and they hoped the live decoy would draw in a longbeard. No such luck. Around 7:30, an hour after daylight, it got kind of quiet. “About 10 minutes later, a group of eight jakes came in and I whispered ‘jakes,’” Josh says. “Hadley had said he didn’t want to shoot a jake, but he was a little cold and had a baseball tournament the second day of the youth season, so he decided to shoot.”

Chris Barham | Virginia
turkey hunting success
Chris Barham killed this big Virginia gobbler on April 14, but his hunt was special for other reasons.. (Photo courtesy of Chris Barham)

It was an emotional start to the 2024 hunting season for Virginia’s Chris Barham, who lost his father, Tommy Barham, a great friend of many and former Primos pro staffer, last September after complications from a heart attack. Chris couldn’t make it out on opening day due to work but went out the next morning before church. It was his first hunt for spring turkeys since he had joined his dad on a hunt at the end of last season.

The unexpected loss left a hole in many of the lives touched by Tommy, but in his last spring of hunting turkeys, Tommy had also suffered a loss that left him distraught. He had dropped his favorite box call somewhere in the woods while turkey hunting. It was a special inscribed box call that had been given to him as a gift from a good friend.

Chris, entering the woods with memories of his father and the times they had shared very much on his mind, started the morning with a short prayer. He then wrestled with which birds to go after because he heard multiple gobbles. One bird was gobbling almost nonstop. Chris decided that was the one to set up on.

"He must be alone," Chris reasoned. As he scrambled to get in position, he was cutting through a thick stretch of forest when his eyes spotted a plastic call case lying on the ground.

Chris thought it must've come from a trespasser since he knew no one else was supposed to be hunting there. He set up on the chatty gobbler and, with a few calls of his own and a little patience, was soon able to squeeze the trigger on the bird as it worked its way through the trees. Sitting there feeling thankful for the blessings of the morning, Chris pulled the case he had found from his pocket to take a closer look at it. When he opened it, there was the call his dad had lost the previous season.

“I cried for 10 minutes,” Chris said. “What are the odds of me just walking up on that call in the middle of the woods, not even along a trail or anything?”

It was as if his father had guided him to it using the gobbling turkey. The feeling of the moment wasn’t lost on Chris.

“It was like he was … right here with me all along.”

The bird had a nice beard and spurs, but the success of this day cannot be measured in numbers. For Chris, it is determined by the strength of the bond he still shares with his late father. Even after his passing, Tommy Barham is still making turkey-hunting memories for those he loved.

Nate Hosie | North Carolina
hunter with tagged turkey
HeadHunters TV host Nate Hosie tagged this 19-pound North Carolina turkey on April 13. (Photo courtesy of Nate Hosie)

Nate Hosie, host of HeadHunters TV, travels the country in search of wild game. On an April 13 trip to North Carolina, he tagged a big bird (11-inch beard; 1 1/8-inch spurs; 19 pounds) while hunting with his friend Hunter Wallis, and both enjoyed a lot of action. “The turkeys worked great,” Hosie said, adding that the birds gobbled, strutted, spitted-and-drummed and did just about everything else a hunter could hope for. Ultimately, the pursuit ended with a 19-pound longbeard for Hosie.

Aura and Trapper Hoffman | Wisconsin
Aura and Trapper Hoffman each bagged a gobbler on the same morning while hunting with their father. (Photo courtesy of Tim Hoffman)

Wisconsin’s youth season was extra special for the Hoffman family. Trapper and Aura, a dynamic brother-and-sister hunting duo, tagged adult gobblers with their father, Tim Hoffman, in Iowa County on April 13. The southwestern portion of the Badger State is known as a top-notch turkey-hunting region, and this pair of youngsters proved it lives up to the reputation.

“This is what youth seasons are all about,” said Wolfpack Adventures’ Capt. Pat Kalmerton, a longtime outdoor-brand ambassador. “I know how excited Tim was about his kids’ success, but nothing compares to the smiles on their faces. They are going to remember the morning they doubled up on a couple of longbeards for the rest of their lives.” Bird stats: 11 1/2 and 10 1/2 beards; 1 1/8 spurs; 22 1/2 and 25 1/4 pounds

Chrissy Franchini | California
turkey hunter
Chrissy Franchini hefts her massive and hard-won California turkey. (Photo courtesy of Chrissy Franchini)

Chrissy Franchini knew where this gobbler roosted, but for two straight mornings he flew down in the opposite direction and stayed flocked up with hens. On the second morning, the California public-land hunter moved to where she thought the flock had headed on April 7 in Yuba County..

“I didn’t see or hear anything there, so I decided to pack up around 2 p.m.,” she said. “The second I got up to grab the decoys he was standing maybe 100 to 150 yards away, staring at me. He walked into thick trees, and I ended up cutting him off and closing the gap to about 40 yards. I shot him with my Franchi 12 gauge. He ended up weighing 22 pounds and sported the longest spurs of any bird I’ve shot.”

Isabelle Morissette | Virginia
turkey hunting
Isabelle Morissette, 17, killed this Virginia gobbler during the Occoquan National Wildlife Refuge Youth Turkey Day on April 6 with NWTF volunteer and wildlife biologist Kevin Walter. (Photo courtesy of Isabelle Morissette)

Isabelle Morissette, a 17-year-old apprentice hunter in Virginia, found early-season success during the Old Dominion’s youth/apprentice weekend when she made a perfect shot on this trophy gobbler on April 6. She was guided by longtime NWTF volunteer and wildlife biologist Kevin Walter during the Occoquan National Wildlife Refuge Youth Turkey Day. The hunt takes place in partnership with the Virginia Chapter of the NWTF, the USFWS and the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.

Morissette and Walter managed to set up within 100 yards of three roosted gobblers. The first one flew down and came toward their setup, but then left when he saw the other two birds quietly roosted above him.

Those two then flew down and followed him. Walter kept calling, and the big tom returned but never got close enough for a shot before walking back off. Morissette and Walter quickly moved to the other end of the field they were on to get ahead of the tom. Walter called and the bird was within 20 yards. When he strolled within 10 yards, Morrisette dropped him cleanly. The trophy tom was estimated to be between four and five years old, tipped the scales at 23 pounds, had a 9 1/2-inch beard and rocked 1 3/8-inch spurs.

Tim Andrus | Texas
Tim Andrus, Texas turkey hero photo
Tim Andrus with “Rush Outdoors TV” had a thrilling morning on March 30th in the Texas Pandandle.

Tim Andrus with “Rush Outdoors TV” reported his March 30 success in the Texas Panhandle near the Oklahoma border. The owner of the ranch he was hunting had been getting photos regularly, but a cold front shut the birds down about a week prior. While scouting the day before his first hunt, Andrus spotted six gobblers grouped up. He roosted some longbeards and went back to camp. The next day, March 30, he enjoyed a thrilling hunt. The morning kicked off with a nearby gobble and a light breeze rustling the blind. Shortly after daylight, Andrus’ box call got some distant turkeys fired up. A lone, silent gobbler came in first but hung up. Minutes later, two more came in gobbling, but coyotes spooked them away. After waiting patiently, the quiet bird returned. Andrus settled the bead and sent a payload downrange that took down the Lone Star longbeard.

Rick White | Florida
Rick White, two Florida spring gobblers
Turkey hunting expert Rick White poses with his two Florida gobblers: (right) 10-inch beard, 1 1/4-inch spurs, 18 pounds; (left) 8-inch beard, 1 3/8-inch spurs, 21.5 pounds. (Photos courtesy of Rick White)

Rick White, host of “Through the Eyes of a Hunter” and pro-staffer for Alpen Optics, has tagged out in Florida. Both hunts, a week apart, were action-packed, but in different ways.

“Some turkeys were working very well, while others were tough,” he says. “Patience is the name of the game on those tough ones. They’re not gobbling nearly as much as our turkeys back home [in the Midwest].

“I killed the first one on opening day. We had one turkey gobbling in front of us. The roost flew down and went in the opposite direction. But we stayed patient and kept calling every so often.”

Around mid-morning, a turkey gobbled within range. White looked out of the blind and spotted the longbeard standing about 15 yards away.

“He worked around us into the decoys and that’s when I shot him,” he says.

The second turkey White shot fell during a gobble-rich sit.

“That morning, we were set up and did not hear a turkey gobble on the roost,” White says. “In fact, we didn’t hear anything until around 10 o’clock. Finally, one answered, and he gobbled every time I called from about 200 yards out all the way to the decoy. We finally saw it about at 100 yards in full strut. He strutted all the way to the decoy and never broke strut until I shot him.”

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