Editor’s note: In this blog, Editor Brian Lovett looks back at memorable moments in his turkey hunting journey. This entry covers his first Missouri hunt.
After my first successful out-of-state hunt, I took another trip to Alabama — with the legendary Eddie Salter as my host.
Man, was I excited. A co-worker and I had five days to hunt Eddie’s place, and Eddie would be our personal guide. It promised to be epic.
And it was. After five days, I’d recorded my first miss — on film, no less — and contracted a cold that left me hacking so much my campmates called me “Lunger.” Did I mention I’d also been stung by mud wasps and had stepped in cat crap? Meanwhile, co-worker Dan Schmidt had filled in for me on another Alabama hunt I’d had to cancel, and he’d shot two longbeards, including one with five beards.
But that was OK, because I was slated to finally hunt Missouri a couple of weeks later. At that time — 1996 — Missouri was the undisputed king of Eastern turkey hunting. Gobblers were abundant, and they were gorillas. In my “I’ve-killed-a-few-turkeys” ignorance, I longed to shoot a 25-pound-plus tom, and Missouri was the place to do it.
My hosts were Greg and Tom Neumann of Penn’s Woods Calls. The first morning, the winds were blowing about 25 mph, but Greg and I joined landowner Russell Jeffries and set up on a ridge overlooking a large pasture. Greg called on and off for about a half-hour, which was good, because it let me know I could still hear something other than wind.
Suddenly, a gobble echoed off to our right.
“What do you think, about 75 yards?” Greg asked.
I was almost ready to reply when I looked up to see two gobblers sprinting toward our decoys. Somehow — and no doubt thanks to the wind-blown woods — I managed to get my gun up and shoot the trailing bird.
Wow, a Missouri turkey had fallen into my lap. Better — to my way of thinking then, at least — he weighed 22.5 pounds. I was still riding a high when we met up with some other Penn’s Woods crew members and saw the 27-pounder one of them had killed.
In the years after that first Missouri hunt, I’ve killed a pile of Show-Me State turkeys — some heavier than that initial bird, some lighter. Many were incredibly memorable, but few were as special as that suicidal 2-year-old on a wind-blown morning.