Henry County turkey hunter Charlton Story had a good spring season. That he already knew, but recently he received special recognition from the National Wild Turkey Federation and here’s the story in his words after bagging two gobblers sporting multiple beards:
“My first gobbler was killed in Henry County on April 24 in the morning hours. I’d hunted this turkey since opening day, knowing he was a smart bird, but did not know he had that many beards. I sat there and waited for him to come to me, since in the past few days he didn’t respond to calling.
“He gobbled, hit the ground and walked right to me. I shot him at about 45 yards in a thicket and down he went. Shot him with a Winchester Super X2. It wasn’t until I got home from that hunt that my fiancee saw he had more than one beard. I didn’t even notice because the dew that morning had matted his feathers down. He had 5 beards total.
“Henry County TWRA wildlife officer Greg Barker and Ty Wilson of B and W Productions came to help score and take pictures for National Wild Turkey Federation. The turkey weighed 21.07 pounds and had a total beard length of 20.375 inches. Left spur was 1 inch and 3/16 and the right spur was 1 inch and 1/16. It scored a total of 84.3200. It placed at the number 86 spot in the state of Tennessee for A-typical turkeys, meaning ‘more than one beard.’
“On May 5, after I sent off the paperwork to NWTF to have him scored and placed, I continued to hunt turkeys here in Henry County. I went to a second farm where I had permission to hunt in hopes of another turkey.
“That morning nothing gobbled at all. I hooted, crow called, and tried every call in my vest. Nothing gobbled. It started to rain and a gobbler came out into the field 300 yards away. He perked up when I hit the old box call five times with deep loud yelps.
“He never gobbled or strutted. But after a few more calling sessions, he finally walked my way. I shot him at 30 yards. I walked up to him and he had three beards. I was so excited I just had to score him also.
“My good friend Chris Schoolfield helped me score this bird, which had apparently been shot before I harvested him. He had lead shot all in his chest, big gashes in his breast, and his feathers and wings were all destroyed. Even had a toe missing.
“We scored him and sent his information into NWTF as well. He weighed 21.68 pounds. All three beards had a total length of 23.9375 inches. His left spur was one and one-eighth inch and his right spur was one and one-sixteenth inch. His total score was 91.3600, making him the 75th-ranked bird in Tennessee for A-typical turkeys.
“I just recently received my NWTF pins and certificates in the mail. Before this year I had never harvested a turkey with more than one beard, and this year I harvest two of them.”
A tip of the hat to Charlton for a unique spring turkey season indeed.
WORLD CHAMP DUCK CALLER DIES
Inventor and world champion duck caller James “Cowboy” Fernandez died last week in Beaumont, Texas, at age 86.
Cowboy worked with George Yentzen to design and patent the first double reed duck call in 1950 and the triple reed in 1968. Cowboy was the first Texan and first double reed contestant to win the World Duck Calling Championship in Stuttgart, Ark., in 1959 using the double reed Yentzen Caller.
And others followed, winning world championships with this Yentzen Caller as well. He was well known for his calling prowess and won numerous regional and international competitions. Fernandez was inducted into the Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame in 2014.
Yentzen duck calls were popular among the ranks of Tennessee hunters in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The old Uncle Lee’s Sporting Goods Store here in Paris must have sold thousands of them. They first sold at $5 a pop and slowly increased to the $10 range.
At one time, practically every duck hunter in Springville bottom had one around his neck.
DOVE SEASON NEARS
The first of Tennessee’s three-segment dove season is fast approaching. The traditional opener arrives at high noon Sept. 1. After opening day, hunters can take to the field at daylight. Daily bag limit is the same as last year with 15 allowed.
EARLY SEASON ON GEESE
Every year, Tennessee has an early season on resident Canada geese and it opens Sept. 1. It’s a 15-day season with a liberal daily bag limit of five. Hunters age 16 and older are reminded to stop by your local post office or favorite sporting goods store and purchase the Federal Duck Stamp in addition to state license requirements for waterfowl hunting.
TWRA FIELD DAY
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency offers field days throughout the year for those who take online hunter safety courses. The field day is required for completion of the online course.
TWRA will host one at 9 a.m. Sept. 15 at Holly Fork Shooting Complex here in Henry County. Participants must have taken an approved online course prior to the field day and have proof of completion. Pre-registration for the field day is required at www.tnwildlife.org.
The next TWRA hunter safety classroom course is scheduled for Oct. 1-6 at Hulme Sporting Goods in Paris. Participants must also register online for it as well.
ARKANSAS TO LIMIT
Commissioners with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission proposed an amendment to waterfowl hunting regulations at its meeting Aug. 16 to specify when nonresidents can hunt waterfowl on wildlife management areas to specific blocks of dates.
If passed, the proposal would let nonresidents hunt waterfowl on WMAs on Nov. 17-25, Dec. 26-Jan. 6, and Jan. 19-27.
Nonresidents still would be required to purchase a five-day nonresident waterfowl permit, but they would be able to purchase as many permits as they wish to ensure they were able to hunt 30 days during Arkansas’ waterfowl season. Commissioner Andrew Parker of Little Rock voiced the proposal.
“Since the last duck season, members of this body have repeatedly heard from Arkansas sportsmen and women that it was a step in the right direction but the pressures from overcrowding on those WMAs still exist, especially on our most popular WMAs,” Parker said. “The point of doing this is an effort to try and look for any possible way to avoid having to go to some kind of a draw system, which is something we don’t want to do.”
Today through Sunday — Archery antlered deer season, private lands only.
Saturday — Hummingbird banding event, Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge, Dover.
Saturday — Free hunting day, statewide squirrel season opens.
Sept. 1 — Dove season opens, early season opener for resident geese.
Sept. 15 — TWRA field day, Holly Fork Shooting Complex.