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Turkey & Turkey Hunting Retro Minute: The Gobbler Named Pep

Al2000Editor’s note: In this recurring blog, editor Brian Lovett looks back on some of his most memorable hunts. This one occurred in early April 2000.

Guide Brian Ross and I stood in the rain and strained our ears for something … anything.

But there was nothing. Alabama was silent.

So we chatted a bit, and I told him how I’d just flown in from Texas, where I’d killed my first two Rio Grandes.

“I guess it’s back to reality,” I said.

Brian smiled.

“You’re about to hear some reality,” he whispered.

Needless to say, we didn’t hurt the turkey population that day. The next morning brought fresh optimism, however, when I joined Al Mattox on another Alabama property. We got on a turkey, and although we didn’t kill it, we figured out his home area a bit.

That night, we hunted the bird again. The sit was fairly uneventful until fly-up time, when we heard the big gobbler and his running buddy roost about 100 steps behind us.

Let’s rewind a bit. During our morning and evening hunts, Mattox and I had experienced a bit of, um, intestinal distress. As such, Mattox named the turkey “Pep,” after Pepto Bismol. And when we left the woods that night, we vowed to get tight with Pep the next morning.

As daylight broke the next day, Pep began to sound off lustily. In fact, he gobbled more than any other Alabama turkey I’d ever encountered. It continued after fly-down and long after the sun was up. Trouble was, Pep really didn’t want to move, so we had to get after him.

After some nifty low-level relocation, Mattox and I were about 100 yards from Pep. And when Pep cut off our first series of yelps, I figured the hunt would escalate quickly. But just then, Pep’s running buddy popped into view about 35 yards away.

“I’m going to shoot this gobbler,” I whispered to Mattox.

“No!” he replied. “Wait for Pep.”

Sigh. He was right, and I begrudgingly passed up an Alabama longbeard.

But for once, things went as planned. Pep took his time, but he finally popped into the open at 35 steps and raised his neck high. At the shot, he folded and was dead. As expected, he was an older bird that sported razor-sharp hooks.

A dose of reality? Perhaps. But reality is what you make of it, and in this case, that was pretty darn good.

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