• Daily Leader staff report
Liberal’s Larry Phillips said Sunday afternoon he felt like buying a Kansas Lotto ticket because the week had been very lucky for him. Phillips bagged his second tom turkey in four days around 11 a.m. Sunday while hunting with his sister, Joy Beasley.
“I got a good-sized Jake with a 5-inch beard on opening day Wednesday,” Phillips said. “My sister couldn’t take vacation days then – she takes hers on opening of deer season – so she wanted to go Sunday morning so I could sit behind her and help with the calling. I figured I had better buy another turkey game tag in case we could get chance at two of them.”
The two were hunting in Unit 3 in Meade County and one additional male turkey can be harvested with a game tag purchased 24 hours or more before hunting again for a second tom. Phillips bought his game tag Friday afternoon.
“We hiked back about a mile or so and got set up by about 5:45 a.m. – we only used one lone hen decoy,” Phillips said. “We heard gobblers all around us just as the sky started lightening up, but none seemed to be heading our way. We had a lone hen come within range, but hens are off limits in the Spring season on turkeys.
“Then we saw a huge gobbler with at least a 10-inch beard some 400 yards away slowly following a single hen. They were moving westward, so we decided to leave our homemade blind and try to flank them and get in front of that tom,” Phillips said. “We worked around front of them and never saw them again. It was like they just disappeared into thin air. They must have spotted us somehow.”
The two returned to their original set-up and Phillips started calling again because toms were still gobbling now and then east and south of them.
“There was a gobbler just south of us – off to our right – in some cottonwood trees in a dry gully. We couldn’t see him, but he sounded close and seemed to be moving west,” Phillips said. “I told Joy he just might try and sneak around behind us.”
Sure enough, about 10 minutes later, Phillips looked back over his left shoulder and saw a turkey moving toward them along a fence line.
“I said, ‘There’s a hen,’ but after I got my binoculars on it, I saw it was a tom,” Phillips said. “I told Joy to get ready, she had to move completely around to her left to even see him, and there was a huge blowdown of dead wood and limbs behind us, and that’s where he was coming from.”
As the bird slowly inched toward them, he finally spotted the hen decoy while he was about 50 yards out.
“He didn’t seem so spooky after he saw the decoy,” Phillips said. “Which was good because I had to wait until he got behind the trunk of a tree before I could even reach back and get my gun that was leaning against a branch.”
As he moved closer to the decoy, Phillips told his sister to get her gun up as soon as she could.
“Trouble was, he was directly downwind, and he heard me whispering,” Phillips said. “That’s when he stuck his head up and started turning back. I whispered again, ‘Shoot, shoot.’ and her gun came up but no shot. He had taken about three or four steps the wrong way, and I let loose with my 10 gauge.”
“The bird dropped, and Joy said, ‘I couldn’t get a shot, the limbs and everything were in the way,” Phillips explained.
They went and retrieved the gobbler – 34 yards out, and Phillips sat in Joy’s spot after they returned to the blind and saw what she had been up against.
“There was no way she could’ve shot through that mess,” Phillips said. “I had a very good clearing between the branches where I was sitting.”
Through that whole time, they never saw his beard, just the head, which identified him as a male, and his fanning tail feathers. It wasn’t until Phillips rolled him over did he notice it’s 8-inch beard and spurs that measured 3/4 of an inch.
“I apologized for having to shoot, and now I have to guide for Joy for the rest of the season – until May 31,” Phillips said. “So now I have to get a bird called in for her as soon as possible – to make amends for shooting her tom.
“But it will be worth it – that was the biggest tom I’ve ever harvested,” he added.
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