Missouri is Turkey Heaven

By Larry Porter

As I was traveling for my first Missouri turkey hunt I couldn't help but think of all the stories that I've heard from all my buddies about turkey hunting in Missouri. I have always dreamed of turkey hunting in Missouri but had never previously gotten an opportunity to do so.

You would never believe the way this hunt transpired, it was nothing short of a miracle from God. I was shopping for turkey calls in the Bass Pro Shop in Nashville Tennessee when a friendly man, Fred Dotson (who runs RutNBucks Outfitters--www.rutnbucks.com--from Citronelle, Alabama) wandered up to me and asked me if I liked to hunt turkeys. I was riding my little scooter, as I am a handicapped hunter.

We talked for a few minutes about turkey hunting and also about our Christian faith. He told me about his new web site, Hope Outdoors (www.hopeoutdoors.com) and that they were sponsoring a handicap hunt in Missouri and he asked me to be his guest. Wow, there is no doubt in my mind that God arranged this meeting with Mr. Dotson so we could become friends and so I could help in his ministry to help other people.

Successful Missouri turkey hunters
Successful Missouri turkey hunters.

It was opening day of turkey season and everyone was excited about our chances, as we had scouted the previous afternoon and heard several gobblers in the area. My hunt began at 4:00 am as Mr. Fred picked me up at camp and off we went to a farm about 10 miles from the Iowa state line. We arrived early and he set up my feather flex decoys a good 45 minutes before daylight.

As I sat in the fencerow where we had built a makeshift blind I was excited, anticipating the first owl hoot. I could see in every direction for at least 150 yards. Nothing will make a long beard gobble any quicker than a hoot early in the morning. At 5:50 AM the music to my ears began as turkeys were gobbling from every direction. I know that there were at least ten or more different birds that were gobbling, but it could have been twenty just as easily. It was something to hear.

After a good twenty minutes of gobbling, I noticed six hens walking over the hillside toward me. A strutting long beard was next to come over the same hillside, but he had no interest in my decoys; apparently his mind was on other things.

At 6:20 another long beard came over the hill, straight toward my decoys. As the gobbler got to within 45 yards I resolved to wait for a sure kill shot, as I could see four other birds at the end of the field. When the second gobbler angled off toward the hens I was glad that I had waited because I was treated to a real turkey show during the next few minutes.

An old gobbler at the end of the field decided that it was time for the three other gobblers to hit the road and he ran them off one at a time. Three jakes then checked out my decoys, walking right up within twenty yards of my position. As I watched the old gobbler at the end of the field breed a hen I heard a gobble directly behind me. It was a different gobbler up on the ridge that had three hens with him and he was in full strut and gobbling. I had already seen eight different gobblers and not fired a shot in the first hour of hunting!

As I sat in amazement at what was happening I couldn't help but thank the Lord for allowing me the opportunity to experience the most exciting turkey hunt that I've ever been on. As I had shifted my position to watch the gobbler behind me I caught something out of the corner of my eye coming over the hill in front of me. It was the heaviest long beard that I've ever seen and he was on a dead run coming to my decoys. He was maybe sixty yards away when I first saw him and he was coming fast.

As he stood face to face with my Jake decoy, looking like he was going to give him a good whooping, I was able to get my gun up. A soft puck from my mouth call made the old gobbler turn in my direction for a nice headshot that closed the deal.

I had just filled my Missouri tag at 7:20 AM with the heaviest bird that I've ever killed, a 25 pounder with a 10 inch beard and 1-1/8 inch spurs. In my ten years of turkey hunting in Tennessee I have never experienced anything like this hunt. I saw more action in 90 minutes of Missouri turkey hunting than I've seen in three weeks of Tennessee turkey hunting, and I've been very blessed to have killed three Tennessee turkeys already this year.

Larry Porter with huge tom turkey
Larry Porter showing huge tom turkey.

I have hunted for 40 years and my priorities have changed over the years. These days its not about what you harvest, but the friends you make on your hunts and the time you spend in the field with God's wonderful creations. Mr. Fred and all the folks at RutNBucks that helped were unbelievable people. Everyone at our camp made me feel right at home and we all had two things in common: our love for being in the great outdoors and our love for God.

Thanks to you, Mr. Fred, and to all the RutNBucks helpers for the most exciting turkey hunt that I've ever been on. More importantly, thank you for the friendship and fellowship we had during the three days that I shared with you.

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Copyright 2007 by Larry Porter. All rights reserved.