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Going With the 12-Gauge, A Good Idea

SzschlabachNelson Schlabach of Summersville, Mo., shares this successful hunt with the Strut Zone:

Friday, April 13th was a lucky day for me. I was hunting close to Melvern, Kan., with my buddy Jason, who lives in the area. The day before we'd had  two very close encounters while bowhunting, but could not get a shot. With the end of my trip drawing near, I decided to switch to my 12 gauge.

Friday morning we decided to try an area along the river where we had seen turkeys all week. The problem was, the river was up too high to cross and a lot of the turkeys, after roosting on our side, flew across the river. That meant we had to get to them as soon as they flew down.

We got out early and soon heard several gobblers several hundred yards away, along the edge of the field on our side of the river .The river ran right along the edge of the field ,and the steep banks were perfect for sneaking along out of sight of the turkeys that had ,by this time, flown down and were feeding in the field.

We eased up the bank everv now and then to check on the turkeys, and once we even flushed several hens still on the roost. They flew across the river which put them out of our way, and thankfully didn't spook the birds we were trying to catch up with.

The turkeys started feeding across the field ,and when we finally got set up lying on the bank behind a log, they were straight across the field—about 150 yards away. Most of them disappeared in the woods except for one gobbler that stayed in sight. We decided to try to call him in.

The weather had been rainy and windy and none of the birds had been responding well to calls, but with no other options, we gave it a shot. At first he seemed to hear us but didn't gobble or come closer until three jakes started heading our way. Then, he started coming and the birds met up about 70 yards out. We called every now and then and they fed their way toward us, in no hurry at all ,and kept looking for the "hen" they were hearing.

Suddenly Jason whisperd that there were some turkeys coming from the right, but since we were 20 feet from the field we couldn’t get a clear look at them. By now the ones in front of us were within 35 yards but the gobbler was to my left and I couldn’t get a good shot. The jakes were in the open, but I decided to wait and, after what seemed a long time, the longbeard finally started toward an opening. I whispered to Jason when I had a clear shot and he clucked at the turkey. When the tom raised his head, I let him have it,,and he dropped right there. It started raining a few minutes after I shot him ,but I hardly noticed. The gobbler weighed 23 pounds, and had an exteremely thick  8 7/8-inch beard and 7/8-inch spurs. He made an awesome ending for a great week!

Nelson's entered into the Give Us The Bird Photo Contest, the winners of which will be announced later during the week. Stay tuned!!! We still have more entrants to run.