SD Turkey 2014 278The hunt began like the postal service’s creed: Neither snow nor rain … nor gloom of night… We had two out of three. The bad weather had really dampened gobbling, and locating turkeys was difficult. We went to a place where a farmer used to feed cattle, an area where turkeys often come to scratch and feed. As we left camp, the snow was just beginning to fall. By the time we arrived a few miles up the road, the ground was covered. The wind chill was easily in the low 20s, and Jimmy and his daughter Adriana watched one end of the opening while Toby and I watched the other. As dawn arrived, we heard gobbles a mile to the north, but not on land to which we had access. So we stuck things out for the first two hours, finally leaving as a farmer began feeding cattle in a nearby field. Teenage Adriana had taken two long beards with a single shot the day earlier, yet was still game enough to tag along with her dad.

The father/daughter combo hailed from Florida, and this was only the second time that Adriana had seen snow. The SD Turkey 2014 309inclement weather produced an inch or two, just enough for an imaginative 17-year-old to make a snow man on the hood of the truck.

That afternoon, Jimmy, Adriana, and Toby went to a different area looking for turkeys. About an hour away, snow still covered the ground up to two inches and the landscape was bleak. Driving back roads and glassing, they came across a couple of turkey flocks, yet none they could approach. After one failed attempt, Jimmy said, “Heck, let’s just walk around and maybe something good will happen.” About a minute later, he crested a small rise and his prophecy came true. There before him was a huge longbeard with three hens.

SD Turkey 2014 294Toby and Jimmy were able to work within 120 yards of the turkeys before resorting to belly crawling. Getting closer, Toby put up the decoy, and the tom took notice. Yet it would not come closer. Crawling on their bellies, Toby and Jimmy worked closer, using the decoy as a shield and a challenge. Still, the tom would not bite. Luck finally went their way and the hens began to feed toward the decoy. The big tom’s head turned as red as a fire truck. On it came and Jimmy dropped the gobbler at 20 yards. The bird weighed 24 pounds, 12 ounces, making it the heaviest bird taken by any camp member.