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In the Turkey Woods 2012: Kansas Comeback

kansas gobbler

Chris Parrish, left, and the author show off a Kansas longbeard.

Lying prone in a Kansas field, I wasn't really worried about getting wet. Actually, I remembered the words of my host, Cecil Carder, from the previous day: "June-sized poison ivy."

If it was there, I'd find it. But meanwhile, Chris Parrish and I had two hung-up longbeards in front of us. Our crawl had taken us within 80 yards of the birds, but that's as close as we'd get. Eventually, the turkeys wandered off, and we headed back toward Carder.

Carder and Parrish, of Knight & Hale Game Calls, had invited me to enjoy two days of hunting in eastern Kansas, and it was apparent from the start that bird numbers would not be an issue.

After just missing out on the field longbeards, we headed in the opposite direction and tried to strike another turkey. We did. In fact, we struck three — including the field gobblers, which had gone around the entire opening to the opposite end of the property. But as Parrish, an eight-time major open contest winner, yelped and cutt at the gobblers, it became apparent the birds were coming.

Within minutes, they topped a field rise and were gobbling at every call. However, I couldn't see them from my vantage. When I heard Carder whisper to Parrish that I should get up on my knees, I took the hint and slowly rose from my setup. Two red-and-white heads popped into view, and I shot the left one.

Soon, a dandy 3-year-old Kansas longbeard was flopping in the field. Better, we had another day and a half to hunt, and I hadn't stumbled into the poison ivy yet — at least that I knew of.

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