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  • A long wait for a longbeard

    My wife Rhonda has been very, very blessed when it comes to deer hunting...but she's been totally 'snake-bit' as far as turkey hunting is concerned. That's fair enough I sort of balances out.

    Actually though, Rhonda's turkey hunting 'career' started off with a BANG. She bagged a nice jake the very first time I took her out turkey hunting 13 years ago. It took less than an hour, in fact. 'Turkey hunting is pretty easy', Rhonda thought. Over the next 13 years, she would find that not to be the case at all.

    Since that first success, we've tried year after year to get her a shot at an adult gobbler, and have had many, many encounters during that time...but never had a shot opportunity presented itself. Too far...too thick...too skittish...walking too fast...etc., etc., etc. We've managed to come up short, time and time again.

    Saturday April 9th, on opening morning, the gobbler we were working almost managed to keep Rhonda's bad luck streak alive. Initially though, he seemed to have read the script. We had him coming straight in to our set-up, but just as he got in range, he veered off course and began skirting us to our left at a slow but steady pace. Rhonda was following him with the sights on the Remington 1100 20 gauge, but the bird would not stop walking no matter what I tried. Finally, as the gobbler was just about to reach a point beyond which no shot opportunity would be possible, Rhonda tripped the trigger, sending a load of Federal Heavyweight #7s in the direction of his head and neck. Her shot was true, and the big tom folded in his tracks at a distance of 33 yards, ending our 13-year quest.

    To say we were both totally ecstatic would be a gross understatement! It's so true that the harder you have to work for something, the more you appreciate it. I knew that when Rhonda's day came, it would be special...and it lived up to my expectations.

    Rhonda's bad-luck-streak-ending gobbler was a nice one. He weighed 19 pounds, had spurs a tad over an inch long, and sported a 12-inch beard. After all the celebrating was over, we took the gobbler straight over to my taxidermist and good buddy Craig Hall. Taxidermy is all about preserving precious memories, and Rhonda and I intend to relive this one over and over for many years to come.

    As a post-script, on the subject of precious memories, the close-up picture of Rhonda's gobbler with my special glass call could be a story in itself. My now-good-friend Jason Terry and his partner Troy Blalock, of Tobacco Row Custom Calls, made this beautiful glass call for me to commemorate my Dad with his last gobbler before passing a couple years ago. This is my first year using the call, and I have found it to be a really neat way to sort of take my Dad along with me, as I continue the turkey hunting tradition.