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Sodden Ground Zero

When I awoke and peeked outside, I breathed a sigh of relief. The torrential rain from the previous day had finally stopped.

I’d joined good friends Mike Miller and Larry Shockey for a combination Kansas/Missouri hunt at the E3 Ranch. Miller had spotted a large group of turkeys the previous day in Kansas, so that’s where we’d start.

Soon after settling in, I heard a hen yelp. Within minutes, I realized we were in the midst of a massive group of birds. I watched turkey after turkey fly down into the timbered bottom in front of us, and listened to an unbelievable show of gobbling, drumming, hen-yelping and jake-yelping.

But although many of the turkeys were just 30-some steps away, they were blocked by the lip of the field edge and some brush. I saw birds walking to and fro but never had a clear, clean shot at a gobbler.

Soon, however, the birds started moving to the right, and a strutter appeared. I waited to shoot until he was clear of other turkeys and raised his neck. At the shot, the woods exploded with turkeys, including a hen that almost took my head off.

Kansas gobbler No. 1 was down, and we hadn’t even made a call yet. And with the sun starting to shine through the clouds, Missouri was beckoning.

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