Sydney's Kansas Turkey Hunt

Discussion in 'Iowa Long Beard Conference' started by AZHunter, Apr 18, 2017.

  1. AZHunter

    AZHunter Fire Eater

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    We left last Wednesday morning for the Kansas turkey hunt that Syd won through the NWTF. We had such an amazing experience. Its a long story, but its worth it, especially when you see what all happened to her on this hunt. We (she) hunted Thursday and Friday last week. She is working on getting caught up at school, so she asked me to post the story on her behalf. I'm sure she'll chime in when she gets a chance. And what we didn't know until we got there, was that the property manager is an outdoor writer, working for the Wichita Eagle newspaper. He did a story on Sydney and it published Sunday. I'll put the link at the bottom. It has some amazing pictures in a link at the end! A huge thanks to Mike Pearce for the article and pictures!

    Thursday was almost nonstop action-packed turkey hunting. The birds started firing off on roost at 6am Thursday morning. Not long after that, there were close to 30 birds in the field about 400 yards from our blind. Toms were strutting and gobbling. Toms were chasing Jakes. Jakes were acting all tough…until a tom showed up. Hens were chasing hens. Toms were chasing hens. Birds were gobbling like crazy. At one point, there were 10 mature toms in full strut. We had birds gobbling in the distance behind us, but on property we didn’t have permission to be on.

    Long story short, she ended up missing three birds on Thursday. She was bummed, but took it in stride, especially when we all started sharing stories of missing birds. After the third miss, tears started and hearts sank all around, but Syd actually got mad and demanded a solution. We talked a bit and Mike and Syd’s guide suggested we stop hunting for the day, get some light loads, and go practice. Syd learned that there are three types of turkey hunters: 1) Those who have missed; 2) Those who haven’t missed yet; and 3) Those who are lying about missing.

    Syd’s guide, Melinda, is a shotgun instructor and Mike has years of experience as well. Syd shot one and we quickly figured out the problem: flinching at the trigger pull. Melinda had her do some dry fire exercises and worked with her on shooting a shotgun like a rifle. We figured out that Syd has been shooting her rifles and mine with extremely light triggers for so long, I never stopped to think that the heavy shotgun trigger would be a problem. After 5-6 dry fires, she had the hang of it and made one last shot with a live load, hitting the mark at 20 yards! Her confidence was back up and we had a plan for the morning!

    The evening dinner was great, but we were glad when it was over. We were tired and ready for bed. They auctioned off 15 limited-edition Preston Pittmann custom box calls made specifically for this hunt. Syd wanted one in her lucky number 7, but when the first call went for $1100, I told her I’d get in so much trouble if I bid on one! I noticed that the landowner bought one for either $400 or $600, but it slipped my mind shortly after that.

    We walked into breakfast at 4:30 Friday morning and there was Mike with a box call in his hand. “Ramon bought this for you last night, but didn’t see you after dinner was over. He kind of likes you!” I was speechless, dumbfounded, and amazed! This guy has a reputation for being as grouchy, stubborn old man, but secretly has a heart of gold when he likes you and he loved Sydney! She found a sharpie and asked Michael Waddell to sign one side of it for her and he gladly obliged. Not long after that, we took off and were walking into another blind in a light rain. We had to be even more cautious and quiet because this blind was set up less than 100 yards from the roost site. We got set up just in time, too. The rain really started coming down. By about 6am, it started to let up and about 10 minutes later, we heard the first gobbles. The rain had them sleeping in that morning. Around 0620, I looked out my little corner window and saw a big strutter out in the field about 80 yards away and I let Melinda know. I looked back to see two strutters and a couple of hens. Then four total strutters and more hens. Melinda started calling and the two closest strutters started heading our way, walking wing-to-wing, strutting the whole time. They never gobbled, but they never broke strut and came closer with each set of calls from Melinda! Syd had her gun up and ready. I heard Melinda, who was looking over Syd’s shoulder, say “Whenever you’re ready.” About three seconds later, I heard the BOOM followed by seeing the bird on the right drop straight in its tracks! The second bird ran right in front of the blind, but Syd missed it as it was running crazy. We tried to call the other bird back, but he ended up walking off with the other hens, back where they came from.

    This is when things got really interesting! We texted Mike (sitting in another blind across the field watching) to let him know we were ready to be picked up. He had asked us to stay put so as not to scare any other birds away for future hunters, but also because he wanted Syd’s genuine reaction for his story. Right after texting him, we heard gobbles fairly close so I texted him back real quick telling him to wait. Syd and Melinda started calling and I saw two turkeys pop out of the trees directly across from us. Both were toms and one had a huge beard. Then a hen walked out with them, followed by two more toms about 15 yards from them. We were really concentrating on those birds, with Melinda doing her best to lure one of the toms over, when Sydney blurted out “Oh $h!t! There’s a big tom right here!” and that’s when we saw the big tom 5 feet outside the blind, walking the gravel road. She stuck her gun out, shot, and missed. The bird was surprisingly clueless, kept walking like nothing happened, and Syd racked another shell, but missed the second shot. That’s when it got really good! The bird started running directly away from us and, rather than switching to the bigger window, Sydney ended up leaning halfway out the smaller corner window with her left leg kind of flopping for balance and fired a third shot. The bird face planted hard and skidded about three feet in the mud! It flopped a bit more than we wanted it to, but it eventually died and we had two big toms on the ground within 30 minutes of each other. We were done hunting by 0710!

    Mike finally made his way to us and that’s when we discovered that Syd’s first tom had a double beard! We took the trophy pics and then headed into the check-in station. Her first bird weighed 20 lbs, had 1-inch and 7/8-inch spurs, and 10-2/8” and 6-5/8” beards! It ended up scoring just over 74” and she gets to enter it into the Kansas Trophy book because of the double beard! For scoring purposes for the hunt, only the longest beard is scored and she had some points deducted for the previous day’s misses, but nobody cared about that. We cared that she had her first bird! Her second bird was 22.94 lbs, had 1-inch spurs, and a 10” beard. As we were getting ready for more trophy pics, she saw the landowner and ran over and gave him a huge hug. He was so excited for her and it was one of the best things I’ve seen.

    At the banquet, when it was time for her essay recognition at the banquet, everyone went crazy cheering for her when she was announced. Dr. James Earl Kennemer asked her to talk about her experience. After her speech, they presented her with the gun she’d be bringing home. It is a Weatherby Vanguard 7mm-08 and the 2014 JAKES Gun of the Year. Even better: it is #1 of 190. Even though she already has a 7mm-08, she’s excited and has made it clear she’s keeping it forever and can’t wait to hunt with it!

    Wichita Eagle Story: http://www.kansas.com/sports/outdoors/article144772629.html

    First turkey, double bearded tom
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Second tom, doubled up within 30 minutes
    [​IMG]

    Her Double
    [​IMG]
     
    Rjack and jkratz5 like this.
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  3. HorseDoctor

    HorseDoctor PMA Member

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    Great job Syd! Way to stick with it! Tell Dad to get a new trigger on that Weatherby and you set! A great trigger is important!!! ;)
     
  4. goatman

    goatman I hunt days ending in Y

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    Awesome. Congrats Syd on a great hunt. Are you hooked on turkey hunting now? And way to stick it out in the rain. Nice birds!
     
  5. Ishi

    Ishi PMA Member

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    Congrats on the double Syd!
     
  6. Daver

    Daver PMA Member

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    Another great story! Congrats to all!!
     
  7. soil

    soil Active Member

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    Great story! Congratulations
     
  8. IAtaxidermist

    IAtaxidermist Member

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    Dang what a trip! Lucky gal.

    One tip I might have for the missing that's going on(both my daughters 13 & 15yos hunt and have yet to miss turkeys).....If you're not already, put your jake decoy where you want to shoot your turkey. 9 times out of 10 the Tom will walk up and strut right next to it. I like to put it at 15-18yds which allows the 20 guage pattern to open up on a modified youth gun to allow for at least a little error. I might be preaching to the choir. Either way, Congrats!
     
  9. bigbuckhunter88

    bigbuckhunter88 PMA Member

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    Congrats on an awesome trip and hunt. And thanks for sharing with us
     
  10. Blaster

    Blaster PMA Member

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    Why to go!!!
     
  11. jkratz5

    jkratz5 Well-Known Member

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    Awesome story and sounds like an awesome hunt. Congrats to Syd on her first Tom and second Tom ;)

    Sounds like some life long memories all around. Congrats buddy!!!

    Kratz
     
  12. AZHunter

    AZHunter Fire Eater

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    Appreciate that and its spot on. I always set decoys (jake and 2 hens) about 15 yards or so out in front of us to minimize the distance if a bird hangs up and they are kind of notorious for that out here! And 30 yard shots are not uncommon here, which is why she has an HS Strut Undertaker turkey choke tube. Her issue was a combination of a trigger pull issue from shooting 3-lb rifle triggers that almost break when you breathe on them and then trying to shoot a heavy shotgun trigger and shooting turkey loads that were provided (required since Federal was a sponsor), but didn't pattern all that well. We went out Sunday morning, refreshed her memory on trigger pull and her shotgun is perfectly patterened at 30+ yards with her normal hunting load.

    Interestingly, we were all perplexed when two mature toms hung up 60 yards out and showed no interest in coming in to strut in front of or beat up the DSD jake decoy next to the hen. We're thinking those two birds must have been whipped on earlier and were a little shy about picking another fight. It was extremely strange!
     
  13. buck3

    buck3 Member

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    Congrats highs and lows are all part of hunting. Last season with a bow I shot too far back and he got away and this year I shot at a distance I wasn't set up for and had a clean miss. Like I tell my kids practice practice practice but even then sometimes life happens. If you ready my "Turkey Vacation" post I had some highs as well. Look forward to seeing your future posts.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017 at 2:17 PM
  14. Meat Hunter

    Meat Hunter Life Member

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    Congrats Syd, great pics and story.
     
  15. Rjack

    Rjack Active Member

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    Congrats Syd. Sounds like a great time.
     
  16. Central Iowa

    Central Iowa Administrator

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    That's a lot of action, congrats what a great experience!
     

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