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Turkey & Turkey Hunting Retro Minute: Two Plus One

ShippsterEditor’s note: In this recurring blog, editor Brian Lovett looks back at memorable hunts throughout his career. This occurred in 1998.
Missouri was already becoming like a second home. I’d been privileged to hunt there the previous two seasons and couldn’t wait to return. At that time, the Show-Me State had the best Eastern hunting in the country, and it wasn’t uncommon to hear a dozen or more gobblers sound off every morning. Better, I’d be joining a crew of World champions: Mark Drury, Steve Stoltz and reigning World champ Don Shipp. It seemed like the turkey fates were lining up something very special.
Cue the irony. We awoke the first morning to loud thunder and brilliant lightning. It wasn’t raining yet, but a storm seemed likely. Still, Shipp, Stoltz and I headed toward our destination, about an hour away. Fifteen minutes into the drive, the storm hit, and the day was already looking like a washout.
When we reached our hunting area, however, the sky began to clear, and the wind died. Light began to break through the eastern clouds, so we grabbed our gear.
Although the local turkeys must have been drenched, they gobbled well on the limb. In fact, so many birds gobbled that we seemed to bounce from one wad to the next, coming close two or three times but never connecting. And by midmorning, we stood at the center of the property with no turkey for our efforts.
No matter. Shipp yelped on a diaphragm, and two birds answered from a flat woods below us. With Stoltz leading the way, we scrambled to cut the distance and set up. By the time we sat, the birds were red hot and approaching rapidly. Immediately after one ear-splitting gobble, two heads popped up over a rise 20 steps away, and I killed the gobbler on the right.
Not thinking, I jumped to my feet to retrieve the bird, sending the other longbeard running through the timber. That’s when I remembered that Shipp and Stoltz had tags, so I stopped and dropped to the ground. Shipp calmly collected the other bird, and we had a delayed double.
We laughed at our fortune and celebrated the hunt. Before we left, though, Stoltz yelped on a diaphragm. Unbelievably, another gobbler fired right back. Stoltz quickly scrambled back to our original setup while Shipp stayed behind to float-call. Within minutes, bird No. 3 was flopping — after having walked through the feather piles of the first two turkeys.
“Some days, the turkeys just do right,” Shipp said. Stoltz and I nodded and agreed. You just have to enjoy days when they do.

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