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Hunting is my passion, as I can imagine it is the passion for most everyone here. I was born with this drive to pursue wild game, to harvest an animal and bring to my table the meat provided. Ever since I was old enough to remember I have been hunting. Growing up in Dallas, Texas with a father who has a passion for the outdoors I can remember long sits in the deer blind, the pre-dawn hours nestled into the tall milo fields waiting on the first signs of doves and of course the great fishing that the lakes around our house provided.

King of Spring

SpringTurkey2016The sun is not yet up when his thunderous gobble breaks the silence of the still morning air. My hunting partner and I pause, glance at one another and with a nod of the head continue down towards where the bird has unknowingly given off his location. It’s the third and final week of Missouri’s spring turkey season, unnaturally cold for May. I was on a quest to meet my goal of filling my second tag, my hunting partner (also a co-worker) was there to call and watch. I had to miss the opening week of our turkey season for work, but there were two weeks yet of season and the second week I was able to harvest a jake who had snuck in with his buddy yelping like hens.

SpringTurkeyHSStrutBut now I was ready to do something that I had never done before…fill both of my Missouri spring turkey tags. It had been tough. I had spent the better part of five days in a row chasing birds with my co-worker and though we came close each hunt we could never seal the deal. Oh, did I mention that I also wanted to fill this second tag on public land?! Most hunters know that public land hunting can be tough, especially when the turkeys have heard and seen everything in the hunters playlist. But this spring we were getting quite the show. Birds gobbling from their roosts, birds just out of range in full strut or birds that snuck in quickly and were too close to shoot before realizing that something was not right.

But this morning we were ready. We knew where this bird was roosted, he had give us the slip the day before when a hen walked his way. We sat down just as he gave another loud, thunderous gobble. He was close, seventy yards at best. Under normal circumstances we would not set up this closely, but this was the only way to get to him. A soft tree yelp was given and the bird wasted no time, his wings broke the silence of the woods as he came gliding to the ground. Then the sound that every turkey hunter knows all too well…the spit and drum of a bird when they are that close. That sound that sends vibrations up and down your spine. His gobbles drove my body into nervous shakes and by the time he was within range I was so shook up that when I shot I watched him fly away.

2016Turkey2SpursFive days of hunting and this is what I am given? With defeat I was preparing to gather my things, going through my head on what went wrong when four more birds sounded off. Quickly we stood and began our moves, setting up two hundred yards away. Two birds answered and we knew that we needed to move. In a haze of excitement it is hard to forget that you need to move silently, it feels like eternity taking such slow and calculated steps, but when the King sounded off again he was forty yards in front of us. He had moved to close the distance and we had no time to prepare. Sitting down in haste I pulled my face mask back up and had my gun up seconds before he made his appearance. The sound of my gun echoed through the Ozark mountains and my second tag was filled. Five full days of hunting, long mornings with little sleep and the sixth day was a success.

2016Turkey2EdAndIThe “Redemption Bird” as my co-worker and I called him had crossed a gravel road that was being grated to get to us. Weight wise he was only 18 pounds and 13 ounces, but he sported two beards, one 11 inches and the second 7 inches. But his spurs were the real trophy, both 1.5 inches! A 4-5 year old bird, a true King of Spring. We outsmarted him on public land during the third and final week of season. I am grateful for my co-workers drive to help me succeed in fulfilling my goal and for helping me tag my largest bird to date on public land. Sometimes all it takes of patience, hard work and some faith to make a dream become reality.

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