Second Chance Tom

I was pumped to hunt spring turkeys in Minnesota, but wasn’t able to make it out until the last day of the 2007 season.

It was just getting light when I arrived at an area where I had seen turkeys several times earlier this spring. About an hour after setting out my hen decoy in a little grassy opening and getting comfortable behind a big oak tree, three turkeys surprised me by appearing right in front of me without me seeing them approach. One was noticeably larger than the others, but didn’t have a beard. I squawked on the sassy hen call a couple times and he fanned out his tail and began to strut — so I knew he was a tom, but with no beard! Only toms with visible beards are legal.

Three Toms, Six Hens Approach
About 30 minutes later, I heard some turkeys gobbling in the distance. I began to work my call and they started moving closer. In about 10 minutes, 10 yards in front of me were three toms and six hens checking my decoy out. I was standing behind a big oak tree wearing all the cold weather camo clothing I owned. I moved just a little to draw my bow and they spotted me — too many eyes that close! They turned and started walking quickly away. I drew back my 50-pound Bear Grizzly recurve bow and took a 15-yard shot at one of the toms, aiming for the center of his back. I missed him, about 6 inches to his right! They all then decided they had better find another place to hang out, and were soon out of sight.

Thirty minutes later, the same bunch came back! I checked out the three toms, trying to see which one had the longest beard or the longest spurs. One tom’s beard was pretty thin, but all three had beards about 9- or 10 inches long. They were moving around too much to check out their spurs. I decided to take one of the two with nice, heavy beards. But again, when I moved to draw my bow back they spotted me and started to move away. This time, though, my aim was a little better and I nailed one dead center about two-thirds of the way down his back. 

A Nice Shot
The arrow appeared to have gone in and the tom walked quickly away, while the others soon disappeared back into the woods. He walked no more than 30 yards, stopped, fell over, and flapped his wings a few times. One of the other toms came back and tried to get him up, but ran off as I approached.

The author says luck was with him the last day of his five-day season — and he got a second shot at a turkey!

The broadhead-tipped arrow had penetrated about 10 inches through his body cavity, hitting plenty of vital organs. He weighed 24 pounds and had a 9-1/2-inch beard. Oddly enough, he didn’t have any spurs, nor any sign that he had ever had any. When I gutted him out, I found that I had sliced the heart with my broadhead and hadn’t touched one bit of meat! After cleaning the tom, I took him to the local locker plant to have him smoked.

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