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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
4/15/2021

I have had a struggle this season, and this week's weather hasn't helped it. I was going to go early this morning, but I had a bunch of work stuff going on. I finally finished things up and got to the woods. The landowner told me that two hours before I got there, he spooked a longbeard and a jake out of his field when he drove down there in his side by side. I crossed the creek and just sat there for about an hour at the last place he saw them. I spent that hour sitting and thinking about what I should do to kill this bird. I am not familiar with the property. Looking at my map, I felt like the turkey probably moved north to what looked like a hardwood bottom, and I had heard a turkey gobble in there on Sunday morning. I headed north and crossed the creek bridge to find myself in one of the prettiest stand of hardwoods I have ever seen. I decided to make my stand right there.

My first series of calls with the wingbone and slate brought in a hen from the north. At first, I thought she was an armadillo, but she came in looking hard for the other hen. She circled around me and started clucking and walking away to the south. She went quiet and another hen showed up clucking from the west. I say it was two different hens, but I guess it could have been the same one that circled back around. I don't know, but the last one headed back to the northwest. Have you ever had that feeling where you just know that what you are doing is going to pay off? I had that feeling, and I haven't had that feeling in a long, long time.

Every 30 minutes I would yelp on the wingbone and slate, soft yelps and clucks. About an hour after the last (or only) hen headed back to the northwest, I heard one gobbler cluck. The cluck sounded like a hickory nut or a big cow oak acorn hitting a limb on frosty morning. It sort of echoed through that bottom. He was to my south, and I was set up for a shot from the north. It took awhile for me to get my head turned to the south, but I finally did and caught a glimpse of a wing through some thick vines, privet, and other brush. I would say that he was about 50 yards at that point. He made it to about 40 when I saw he had a long beard. He stopped and stood statue still with his head up, looking for about 5 minutes. I am not exaggerating about the time; he literally stood there for 5 minutes. I've said before that scared and smart often look the same, and maybe they are the same. At this point, I am just about to panic: "If he turns around and goes back to the south, I am going to be devastated. I wonder if I should just swing on this bird..." Fortunately, the part of me that has been turkey hunting for 41 years said, "Hey stupid. Keep your mouth shut and be still. You been sitting here patiently for 3 hours. Don't screw this up. He is going to walk past you." So, I sat.

After 5 minutes, he started moving to the north and got behind a bunch of big oaks. I slid around in my chair and waited. He looked like he was moving a little bit further away and sort of making a circle around the last place he heard a call; he was either real scared or real smart. I am still not sure which one he was. He came out from behind the bushes at about 40 steps, maybe 45. I can't remember if I clucked or if he just stopped and picked his head up, but he stopped and picked his head up to look. I had the green dot on his waddles and sent one to him. At the shot, I didn't see a turkey flopping; I didn't see a turkey running; I didn't see a turkey flying. It was just dead silence. I started walking over and saw him lying in a shallow depression, stone dead. I will keep shooting these Longbeard XR's. As I grabbed him by the neck and toted him back to my gear, I was overjoyed. I started getting my tags together, and that is when I noticed that he had a band on his leg. We found the gps device on his back when I got him back to the truck. I never noticed the gps in the woods.

He had a 10 inch beard, one 3/4 inch spur, other leg was slick, and he weighed 16.5 pounds. I talked to the biologist, and he said the turkey was one of four they tagged at an LSU research facility 4 years ago. That should tell you something about the "spur length equals age" myth. I have always been a little skeptical of that aging method. But, without that information, I would have just said he was a 2 year old. Thanks for reading.
 

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4/15/2021

I have had a struggle this season, and this week's weather hasn't helped it. I was going to go early this morning, but I had a bunch of work stuff going on. I finally finished things up and got to the woods. The landowner told me that two hours before I got there, he spooked a longbeard and a jake out of his field when he drove down there in his side by side. I crossed the creek and just sat there for about an hour at the last place he saw them. I spent that hour sitting and thinking about what I should do to kill this bird. I am not familiar with the property. Looking at my map, I felt like the turkey probably moved north to what looked like a hardwood bottom, and I had heard a turkey gobble in there on Sunday morning. I headed north and crossed the creek bridge to find myself in one of the prettiest stand of hardwoods I have ever seen. I decided to make my stand right there.

My first series of calls with the wingbone and slate brought in a hen from the north. At first, I thought she was an armadillo, but she came in looking hard for the other hen. She circled around me and started clucking and walking away to the south. She went quiet and another hen showed up clucking from the west. I say it was two different hens, but I guess it could have been the same one that circled back around. I don't know, but the last one headed back to the northwest. Have you ever had that feeling where you just know that what you are doing is going to pay off? I had that feeling, and I haven't had that feeling in a long, long time.

Every 30 minutes I would yelp on the wingbone and slate, soft yelps and clucks. About an hour after the last (or only) hen headed back to the northwest, I heard one gobbler cluck. The cluck sounded like a hickory nut or a big cow oak acorn hitting a limb on frosty morning. It sort of echoed through that bottom. He was to my south, and I was set up for a shot from the north. It took awhile for me to get my head turned to the south, but I finally did and caught a glimpse of a wing through some thick vines, privet, and other brush. I would say that he was about 50 yards at that point. He made it to about 40 when I saw he had a long beard. He stopped and stood statue still with his head up, looking for about 5 minutes. I am not exaggerating about the time; he literally stood there for 5 minutes. I've said before that scared and smart often look the same, and maybe they are the same. At this point, I am just about to panic: "If he turns around and goes back to the south, I am going to be devastated. I wonder if I should just swing on this bird..." Fortunately, the part of me that has been turkey hunting for 41 years said, "Hey stupid. Keep your mouth shut and be still. You been sitting here patiently for 3 hours. Don't screw this up. He is going to walk past you." So, I sat.

After 5 minutes, he started moving to the north and got behind a bunch of big oaks. I slid around in my chair and waited. He looked like he was moving a little bit further away and sort of making a circle around the last place he heard a call; he was either real scared or real smart. I am still not sure which one he was. He came out from behind the bushes at about 40 steps, maybe 45. I can't remember if I clucked or if he just stopped and picked his head up, but he stopped and picked his head up to look. I had the green dot on his waddles and sent one to him. At the shot, I didn't see a turkey flopping; I didn't see a turkey running; I didn't see a turkey flying. It was just dead silence. I started walking over and saw him lying in a shallow depression, stone dead. I will keep shooting these Longbeard XR's. As I grabbed him by the neck and toted him back to my gear, I was overjoyed. I started getting my tags together, and that is when I noticed that he had a band on his leg. We found the gps device on his back when I got him back to the truck. I never noticed the gps in the woods.

He had a 10 inch beard, one 3/4 inch spur, other leg was slick, and he weighed 16.5 pounds. I talked to the biologist, and he said the turkey was one of four they tagged at an LSU research facility 4 years ago. That should tell you something about the "spur length equals age" myth. I have always been a little skeptical of that aging method. But, without that information, I would have just said he was a 2 year old. Thanks for reading.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Update from LDWF: The turkey was captured on 2/14/18. At that time, he had a 6 inch beard and 3/8 inch spurs. Assuming he was born in 2016, he would be 5 years old with 3/4 inch spurs. Maybe he was a late hatch from 2016. Anyway, I thought it was interesting. I'll get a certificate with all relevant biological data at the end of the season. I have a Bachelor's Degree and and a Master's Degree that are sitting in a drawer in my office. This certificate will be matted, framed, and hung in my office!!
 

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Nice bird man. Louisiana birds are special , I got me one a couple years ago. Tough hunting amongst the smallest population of turkeys in the southeast . The one I killed had a 10 3/4” paintbrush and one spur that was 1/2 and the other leg had a tiny button coming back through a scale. I don’t know if he was growing new spurs or if that’s all they were. He acted old and smart, and he weighed 23lbs. I have no doubt in my mind he was not a 2 year old .... so yeah while spur length can be an indication of age if they happen to grown long to prove some time of luck and survival it is definitely not an indication of age if they happen to not meet your expectations
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Congratulations on the gobbler! I'm loving these studies on the tagged gobblers and the fact they're proving everything we thought we knew about aging them to be false.
I have always been a little skeptical of that aging process. But these studies have made me second guess a lot of assumptions I used to make that have helped me kill a bunch of turkeys over the last 41 seasons, especially the "turkeys coming back to the same area to roost". I have killed a good many turkeys in the evening out of necessity, but some (most?) of the ones I got were not the ones that I thought they were. One assumption that I know is true is that the more time you spend out there the better your chances are. I also thought that their core area was smaller in the spring than it actually is. I really saw that on a specific level when I was in Florida this spring and could clearly see tracks and follow them. I followed one set of gobbler tracks for a solid mile one morning before the season. I'll just keep on hunting the way I always have, but I have a new appreciation of how blessed I am with each gobbler I am able to bring home. This one will be a constant reminder of that when I get him back from the taxidermist. Dropped him off yesterday with everything needed except the mold.
 
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