Fan Club, you hit the nail right on the head. Pressured Gobblers, get the chip off your shoulder. Casada didn't mean any offense, and neither did I when I used the term "twenty-bird expert" in an article in T&Th several years ago. And I got reamed out by several folks just like you, people who had killed 15 or 20 birds and who thought I was looking down my nose at them. I was not then, and I still don't now, look down my nose or denigrate the abilities of ANY turkey hunter who really gets out there and tries. Both Casada and I, and as mentioned, the many other writers and veteran turkey hunters who have referenced the "twenty-bird expert" concept over the years, meant exactly what Fan Club said: that after a hunter starts to kill some birds, he or she almost inevitably begins to get an over-inflated idea of his or her expertise. I know I did.
This phase is completely understandable and dovetails perfectly with the human psyche - we want to succeed, and when we start to do so, we tend to think we've pretty much got it figured out. This stage lasts for a few seasons, usually, and then the hunter in question gets more experience, kills more birds, and begins to realize that no matter how "good" he gets, he's always going to have a lot to learn. I know I'm a much better turkey hunter today than I was when I was a "twenty-bird expert," but you know what? I still feel like a rookie 50 times a season.
As for Archibald Rutledge's 300-odd turkeys not being ethical kills - it's apples and oranges. Mores and attitudes were far different back then - game laws were relaxed or non-existent, game management was an un-thought-of concept, and it was the way things were done. I expect thre were plenty of others who killed more birds than Rutledge, he was just the one who wrote about it. If big numbers get your goat, give Rutledge a break and save your spitballs for C.L. Jordan, the guy McIlhenny stole words from when he wrote "The Wild Turkey and its Hunting". Jordan killed over 2,000.
There's nothing to be ashamed of with your 20 birds in 15 years on public land, Pressured Gobblers. It's a record to be proud of. However, don't let it go to your head. You're not as good a turkey hunter yet as you're going to be. The birds themselves are going to see to that.
Good luck this season. I'm headed to Oklahoma tomorrow to see if I can find a dumb Rio or two.
Never let 'em see the whites of your eyes...