Sen. Portman Takes a Tom

Sen. Portman Takes a Tom

Makes all the right moves in gaining Ohio carcass

GUERNSEY COUNTY, Ohio. -- The weather was far from ideal for wild turkey hunting: windy, the temperature hovering around 40 degrees.  A low, gray sky threatened rain.  Would turkeys even gobble on such a day as this?  Undaunted, U. S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) stepped into the woods on opening day of the Ohio turkey hunting season, Monday, April 23, well before dawn. 

Clad in camouflage from head to toe and toting a black 12-gauge, the Senator was guided by Roby Williams, a veteran state wildlife officer and turkey hunter.  The location was privately-owned land in Guernsey County, beautiful, rolling hill country in the southeast portion of the Buckeye State.

After a hike up a steep hill, Portman and Williams stood in the dark on a ridge catching their breath, listening and hoping.  As the black of night turned slowly to the gray of early morning, songbirds began to call, the first being a whippoorwill.  Next, other species joined in one at a time.  Combined with the wind, the building crescendo of birdsong made it even tougher to hear a turkey gobble.

But Portman needn’t have worried. Officer Williams had done his scouting homework well, and when the first wild turkey of the morning gobbled it was roosted less than 100 yards away.  The two hunters grinned at each other, then dived for cover.  Sitting down against two trees, they pulled their facemasks on and waited.

Soon, two other toms were also gobbling, and Williams began answering with hen yelps from his mouth diaphragm caller.  The birds loved it, and flew down.  Gathering together, the trio of gobblers set out to find that tempting “hen” on the ridge.

The turkeys continued to gobble as they approached, conveniently signaling the hunters as to their progress.  Eventually, the birds were so close Portman and Williams could hear them strumming or drumming, a sound normally only heard when a turkey is within shotgun range, 40 yards or less. Knowing the birds were close, Portman slowly and deliberately shifted his 12-gauge from his lap up onto his bended left knee.

Within seconds a long-bearded wild turkey gobbler walked into Portman’s view — not 20 feet away! Unfortunately, the bird’s head was behind an obstruction, and Portman wisely chose not to shoot. Seeing no hen, the turkey turned and went back down the hill, joined his two buddies, and walked back out of range.

But Williams, being the experienced turkey hunter he is, had played this cat-and-mouse game before.  He whispered to Portman that they needed to move, and the two hunters slipped quietly farther down the ridge and repositioned.  Once again, Williams sent several soft yelps through the woods, telling the toms where their elusive hen had moved to.  The three turkeys gobbled their response, and within minutes were again closing the gap. 

Senator Portman drew a bead on the first tom to walk within range, slipped off his gun’s safety, and squeezed the trigger.  The shotgun roared and the bird went down in a heap, a two-year-old tom weighing around 20 pounds and sporting a beard just over nine inches in length.

“I’ve hunted nearly all my life,” said Portman, later that morning. “Growing up in the Cincinnati area, my father started me out on small game such as rabbits, pheasants, and squirrels. He and I particularly enjoyed quail hunting together.”

Unfortunately, a blizzard and severe, prolonged cold weather during the winter of 1978 wiped out most of the bobwhite quail population in Ohio.  But it’s about that time white-tailed deer and wild turkeys were coming on in the state, so Portman set his sights on those game animals. In addition to the gobbler he took on opening day this year, Senator Portman has previously killed several other wild turkeys in Ohio.

Both a hunter and angler, U. S. Senator Rob Portman is a friend of America’s sportsmen. He’s also on the short list to possibly become Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential running mate should Romney secure the Republican nominee for president.  As a guy who enjoys the outdoors as much as we do, Rob Portman is one of us. And he’ll fight for sportsmen’s rights to continue to hunt and fish. Regardless of your political leanings — Republican, Democrat, or Independent.

Recommended for You


MLF Pros: What's Your Go-To Lure?

G&F Online Staff - May 20, 2019

When all else fails, here's what these pros tie on.

Trout & Salmon

How to Catch the Biggest Trout in the Stream

David Paul Williams

Several factors need to be evaluated before reaching a conclusion about what fly, lure or...

Fishing How-To

Why You'll Lose Your Next Big Bass

Larry Larsen

Now that you know you might screw it up the next time a big fish bites, let's fix it.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

13 Fishing Inception SZ

Florida angling pro Jessie Mizell knows that the saltwater found in Sunshine State coastal fisheries can wreak havoc on even the best fishing gear. But with 13 Fishing's new feature laden Inception SZ saltwater baitcasting reel, tackling inshore and light tackle saltwater game fish just got a whole lot easier!

New Optimum and Optimum TS Downriggers from Canon

From rugged reliability to smooth integration of cutting edge technology across several different platforms, OSG's Lynn Burkhead learns that there's much to like about the new Optimum and Optimum TS downriggers from Canon.

Costa's Award Winning Waterwoman Sunglasses

Costa's Amanda Sabin tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead about all of the great features that made the new Waterwoman frame a big winner at the 2019 ICAST show as well as out on the water.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Other Freshwater

3 Deadly Bait Rigs For Stripers

J.B. Kasper - April 21, 2005

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use bait rigs for stripers.


10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems

Anietra Hamper

Here are the 10 most common reel performance problems and how to fix them.


4 Tips When Jig Fishing For Bass

Chris Schneider - August 25, 2015

A 7 pound giant taken on a jig during the pre-spawn transistion in the Midwest. Although...

See More Stories

More Stories


Grandpa'™s Gun Tags Giant Buck, Ends Multi-Year Quest

Lynn Burkhead - November 21, 2017

Missouri hunter Tim Phillips is all smiles after using his late grandfather's worn Marlin...


Arizona Mountain Lion Hunt Turns Into Dangerous Jaguar Encounter

Aaron Decker - November 30, 2011

A father and daughter with their dogs on a dry ground mountain lion hunt get more than they...


Gear Reviews: New Coyote Hunting Rifles, Shotguns

Game & Fish Online Staff - September 07, 2018

Here's a look at some of coyote hunting rifles and shot gun featured in this summer's Game &...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.