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First Bird of 2007

Cruising the turkey hunting chat rooms and blogs earlier this week, I found this picture and story by 38-year-old Mike Williams, of South Georgia, who was the first one to post (that I saw) a successful hunt in 2007.

Here's his story in his own words, taken from the NWTF Message Board:

Well, I'm back from my first hunt of the year. I was hunting a 1,850-acre working cattle ranch in Okeechobee, Fla. This was my first ever "pay hunt" for turkeys and it was a little different experience for me. As most of you know, I'm gonna try to get a double slam in 07 and I can already tell that I'm gonna have to change my personal hunting practices to make sure it happens. The story will explain what I mean. 

I arrived on Friday afternoon and the rancher/guide and I rode around and saw a few turkeys, but no longbeards. Saturday morning, we set up looking at a levee that he said turkeys like to frequent. Turns out that these turkeys are not into their courtship phase yet. There was no gobbling at all, but we did have five jakes (I don't shoot jakes) and some hens walk by with the jakes getting within 10 feet trying to find out where my calling was coming from.

After the morning set-up, we walked all over the ranch and saw only a few hens milling around...no strutters anywhere. By noon, I was very discouraged and had to keep reminding myself that I was here to KILL a turkey that I needed for my double slam.

Now, as long as I have been turkey hunting, I have never hunted after 3 p.m. cause the killing of a turkey is not important enough for me to ambush it going to roost. You see, the draw that I have to turkey hunting has nothing to do with killing turkeys. I do it cause I really enjoy "the game" and calling the bird to the gun.

I shoot them because that is the end result of the game. But, I realized that if I was gonna kill one of these unresponsive turkeys, that's the way it was gonna have to go down. It's new to me, but this season has to be all about the KILL. Otherwise, my wife has wasted a ton of money. Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely happy that I killed my first Osceola and have one bird toward my 8, I just wish that I could have called him in.

On a side note, the accommodations were less than desirable, so I wanted to finish as soon as possible. 
At about 4:30 we set up on a lane that went through one of the oak hammocks the birds liked to roost in. First a hen, then six jakes came right down the lane. About 20 minutes later, three gobblers came into view down the lane a bit. I picked out the bird that appeared to have the longest beard and put him down.
He went down hard and my first hunt of 2007 was complete. Since we had not seen any longbeards, I had already decided that I'd shoot the first swinging bearded turkey that I saw. Anyway, he had a 9.25-inch beard, 1.25-inch spurs and weighed 20.14 lbs (huge for an Osceola). I'm pretty happy with him, I just wish they had been more responsive to calling, but it was just too early for these birds.

Congrats Mike. And you'll be this year's first entry into our "Give Us The Bird" photo contest, details to come soon. Also, since Mike's posting, I've received a few other pictures and stories, all of which will be posted in good time.

Keep the successful hunts coming!


Richard Baldwin

I'm sorry but you writers are ruining our sport , your over paid , only go after the biggest and the best , hunt every state and KILL KILL KILL , usually inside a fence ,
promoted by money hungry sponsers who could give a dam about the sport [ other than the money ] you call like your on a stage instead of in turkey woods , If you cup your mouth and call while jerking around trying to deflect you call in different directions ?? the birds I hunt wouldn't give you the first chance let alone the second chance , and I feed these birds regular in the winter , but that doesn't mean their not wild and wary , just jerk around while calling these birds and see what happens [ NOTHING ] long gone.
take your Knight muzzle loaders , if you want to call them muzzle loaders , and your fancy shotguns with extra full turkey chokes
paid for by your sponsers and hop on your four wheeler and go the hundred yards to the fenced in birds all provided by your money hungry sponsers and get REAL FOLKS
I'm real tired of the biggest , the best , the most expensive , only the rich can hunt
what about the guy who has only a couple days a year because he has to feed his family and pay bills and then he has to listen to some young squirt with money running out of his ears , enabled by sponsers and again I say enabled , no responsibility just hunt and kill so the other side can see what I've done , sick of it , just sick of it


Hey Rich,

Kind of funny you would pick on ol' Ruben here for sharing his hunt when he didn't get paid a cent for writing it!!!! Ruben does do some freelance writing and has done a few pieces for OL, but I asure you, there aren't too many outdoor writers being overpaid. (And damn fewer hunting inside of a high fence.) In fact, his main job is working for a large newspaper and doing a little guiding on the side, sort of like most of the outdoor writers who have to take up several jobs in order to make ends meet. If there is one problem with outdoor writing, it is that the pay by and large isn't all that.

Most of us laugh because we are the working poor, who sacrifice good money in other career fields to do what we love--hunt and fish and maybe somewhere still scrape enough by to pay all the bills, take a vacation or two with the family each year and above all, keep a good roof over their heads.

So while you obviously have some sort of issues going on, whether they be jealousy or you simply hate your own job, just know, we feel for you brother, because at the end of the day, you and us are probably more alike than you realize--we're all just trying to scrape a little fun out of our lives while busting our tails to stay just one step ahead of the man!!! Sounds familiar doesn't it.

We still love you brother, and if you ever get tired of toting that chip around on your shoulder, share a story with us about one of those few great days you've managed to slip out and enjoy the outdoors, cuz one thing about this Strut Zone, we're all poor and we're all allowed to share our stories. And despite picking on ol' Ruben and the rest of the general profession....you're still always welcome here....


Hey Rich,

This is even funnier. After I wrote the last response, I thought you were busting Ruben's chops. These posts all run together sometimes after reading them over and over! Heck man, you're busting on ol' Mike, who doesn't write at all. He shared this same story with some boys on the NWTF message board the other day and allowed me to post it here!!! Mike is one of you, just a dude who loves to hunt. Don't hate the player man, don't hate the player....