It was late "Spring Gobbler" season 2006 and my good friend Smokey Clay and I were hunting with IMB Outfitters in Missouri. It was our first turkey hunt with Darrin Bradley, but I was quite familiar with the quality of his operation due to our past experience hunting "Monster Bucks" out of his Illinois operation. We would be hunting with "Dan" one of our favorite guides.
My firearm of choice was a Winchester 12 gauge which I felt very confident with, as I had patterned it before leaving the hills of West Virginia. As dawn approached, we could hear several gobblers in the trees around us. The first birds flew down in the field directly across from where we were set up. However, they would not respond to Dan's calls. The next group of birds flew down to our right, appearing to be a mile away. We could not hear them answer Dan's calls, but we could see their necks stretch out each time they gobbled. We decided to move toward the birds instead of waiting on them to come to us.
As we moved closer, Smokey kept calling until we could finally hear them answer. Smokey is the "Best Turkey Caller" I have ever hunted with. I cannot tell the difference between his call and the call of a real turkey. Suddenly, I could see the gobblers head above the tall grass. I took what I thought was careful aim, but as soon as I pulled the trigger I knew I had "green horned" this bird.
We were on our way back to the truck when this "Big Ole Tom" stepped out on the other side of a drainage ditch in front of us. We quickly dropped to the ground in hopes of not being spotted. I suggested we belly crawl to the drainage ditch in hopes of getting an opportunity to kill this big bird. As funny as Dan and Smokey thought this was, we soon found ourselves knee deep in water and mud at the bottom of the ditch. Our only focal point was a bush to help us locate where the gobbler was. We sounded like a herd of elephants as we moved through the ditch toward the bush. When we reached the bush, Dan peeked over the edge and immediately froze. After what seemed like an eternity, he motioned for me to get ready.
I raised my Winchester not knowing exactly where the gobbler was. Suddenly I heard the gobbler "pert" above me and at the same time he stuck his head over the edge of the ditch. When the gun went off, Dan yelled "You got him!". I jumped out of the ditch to claim my prize. He was a beautiful Missouri Tom with a 10 1/4" beard and 1 1/8" spurs.
I want to thank Darrin, Glenda, Tyler, Houston and Dan for an exciting hunt. I will be back!