-By Brandon Wikman
Kansas has once again proved to be one of the best turkey hunting locations in America. Last week I was able to call a giant strutter into range during the beginning of our trip and ended up wrapping my Kansas license around his leg. This enabled me to purchase another tag and put more meat in the freezer.
David Schotte, the owner of Blue River Whitetails and I planned an all out turkey blitz. We had spotted an absolute monster of a tom. The bird looked like a 30-pound bowling ball and sported a beard that could’ve easily made two paintbrushes! It was the biggest bird I’ve ever seen in my life and one of the largest Schotte had ever laid eyes on.
The only problem hunting the goliath-sized bird was that he roosted with a flock of other birds. He’d always escort a handful of hens during fly-up and fly-down. He also bossed around four other mature gobblers. It was as if he was crowned king of the flock. We had to take in account that the gobbler pulled some serious baggage around. More turkeys means more eyes, greater odds of being picked-off, and a slim chance of calling the bird in. Our plan was quite simple. We’d pop a blind along the woods facing the field within shooting distance of where they all hit the ground from fly-down. It would require a lot of luck defeating the flock of fifteen. They had to fly down near the blind so I’d be able to toss up my shotgun through the window and fire. We also had to be super stealthy so the birds wouldn’t hear us in the morning opening up the blind or walking into the setup.
The morning of my hunt to kill the largest turkey in Kansas couldn’t have come any sooner. I swear I woke up with fire in my eyes and an overwhelming sense of anticipation. We arrived at Schotte’s extra early. It was critical that we arrived extra early so the sky was completely black and the birds were sound asleep. Schotte, my field producer, and I tiptoed through the corn stubble field as quiet as we could. Subtle step-by-step crunches marked our arrival en route to the landing pad of all the birds. All three of us silently opened the blind and walked it toward the woods-edge. The field producer and I huddled into the blind while Schotte sunk into the thick vegetation behind us.
The sky slowly transitioned from coal black to light blue. The stars soon vanished, horizon ignited with red, and the birds woke. The morning silence shattered with gobbles storming from limbs. Every bird was roosted within eighty-yards of the blind. I whispered to the video camera as the morning show unraveled. During my brief recap a hen pitched into the field no more than twenty-yards from the blind. I grabbed my shotgun and lifted it to the open window. Another hen landed and it was only time until the giant tumbled his way down to the ground. Both hens started acting nervous. They tossed up their head and began an alarm putt. My jaw nearly hit the ground and all of my hope shredded as a coyote walked toward the birds. It was game over within a moment. Every bird flew the opposite way into another field. As the sounds of the last gobbler flew from atop the tree, Schotte hustled me to the backfield. The stalk was on.
We jumped a creek and followed a deer trail up a bank, which led to where he thought the birds might cross. I positioned myself behind a thick briar bush in the shade. My eyes focused down the end of my barrel. The sound of a gobble reassured that me not only we were setup in the perfect place, but the timing couldn’t have been any better. A glowing fantail arose from the steep bank. The sun glimmered on the beautiful bird as he walked our way down the trail. I took a glimpse at his beard and realized it wasn’t the mega-beard, but that was fine with me. A few yelps from Schotte’s slate call deflated the bird out of strut. He picked his head up and I blasted a shot. The bird hit the ground and so did I! The amazing turn of events shook me up. I went from a serious low to an all time high within minutes.
We were able to use the terrain to our advantage thanks to Schotte’s keen understanding of the landscape. The hunt was truly unforgettable. The monster tom gets to live another year and only grow bigger! I look forward to coming back next year and setting my sights on the colossal bird that got away.