By Bob & Ginny Riege
An hour before daylight, the bacon and eggs were gone and Dennis Klever and I were heading out by truck to locate the setup we'd established the night before. This was my first Missouri turkey hunt and I was as anxious as a young boy waiting for Santa to arrive.
As we walked quietly down the sandy road in the dark, hoping not to step on a rattlesnake, we used the adjacent fence as a marker as to how far we had to go before getting to our spot. This was a perfect spot with a slight dip in the road to hide a strutting zone that the gobblers had established.
My setup was next to a large oak tree that jutted out into the lane or road near a hog-wire fence. I crouched under a plum thicket and waited for the first light of the day. Just before sunrise, I heard a turkey give a low tree call and then two or three loud thumps as birds flew down from their roosts.
I saw two toms and a hen appear in an opening behind the wire fence. They were walking my way, and one old long-beard looked like he was leading the procession. Just then, four more turkeys appeared in the opening, and it felt as if I was in turkey heaven.
However, when they came to the fence, they followed it for about 60 yards from my position. I don't like to take shots at that distance because if you pattern your turkey guns you will note that 40 -50 yard shots are the most productive at getting enough pellets into the killing area of a bird's head on a paper target.
As I watched, a Jake took off and flew over my head. It would have been an easy shot, but I was hoping the flock might work its way around the fence. They didn't, of course. An hour later, I heard the boom of a shotgun down where Dennis was hunting. It was now nine o'clock, the sun was hot, and the birds had disappeared into the vast cornfields and grasslands to feed.
As the morning grew closer to 11 o'clock I decided that I might try some soft yelps. I know by this time the hens have all moved away from feeding and have decided to go sit on a nest somewhere and the toms start responding to the hen call again. After my soft yelps I raised my binoculars to look at a dark object some 200 yards away. I couldn't believe my eyes. Through the binoculars I spotted one of the largest turkeys that I had ever seen. His beard was almost dragging on the ground. I've always wanted to bag a really big turkey and I thought this might be my chance.
There were two or three other birds following him, but I was focused on this big fellow. When they dropped down into the shallow strutting zone I lost sight of them.
I waited 10 minutes but there was no sign of a turkey. Then, as I watched intently, I heard a faint shuffling sound directly behind me. There was no way I could have turned in the plum thicket and attempt to shoot over my shoulder around the oak tree, so I rolled my eyes in that general direction to see what I could not shoot at. I was astonished to see three doe and a small buck grazing not more that five feet from where I was sitting. I thought this is great. They will spook and run right down the lane where the turkeys were, but they didn't. Instead they simply went about the chore of feeding and moving down the side of the lane and eventually melted into the forest. I then turned my attention towards the turkeys.
If I was surprised at the deer, I was dumbfounded, as I suddenly looked square into the face of a big tom turkey not more than 10 feet away. We stared at each other as the sweat ran down my cheek and a mosquito fed on my nose.
Finally he putted a couple of times and slowly walked off at an angle toward a clump of brush. When he disappeared from view, I raised my Remington 1187, quietly clicked off the safety, and waited for that big red head to appear from behind the bush. As he stepped out, I fired and he went down in a wing-flopping heap.
He wasn't the huge tom I had seen, but he was a respectable gobbler about two years old. As I tagged him I looked at my watch and decided that these high noon Missouri gobblers were O.K. and trust me I plan on being back next year. In fact I will be in Branson, MO this coming May to hunt more High Noon Missouri Toms.
Photo Caption: Eastern Wild Turkey in full strut. Photo Submitted.