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. The way this hunt all transpired was nothing short of a miracle from God as I was shopping for turkey calls in the Bass Pro Shop in Nashville Tennessee when a nice friendly man, Mr. Fred Dotson who is an outfitter with RutNBucks walked up to me and asked me if I like to turkey hunt. I was riding my little scooter as I am a handicap hunter and I have always dreamed of turkey hunting in Missouri but never got a chance to go. We talked for a few minutes about turkey hunting and also about our Christian faith. He told me about his new website, Hope Outdoors and that they were sponsoring a handicap hunt in Missouri and asked me to be his guest. Wow, there is no doubt in my mind that God arranged this meeting with Mr. Fred Dotson so we could become friends and I could help in his ministry to help others.
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 as he set up my turkey decoys a good 45 minutes before daylight. As I sat in the fencerow where we had built a makeshift blind I was so excited anticipating the first owl hoot, nothing will make a longbeard gobble any quicker than a hoot early in the morning. At 5:50 the music to my ears began as turkeys were gobbling from every direction. I know there were ten or more different birds that were gobbling but it could have been twenty just as easy. After a good twenty minutes of gobbling, I noticed six hens walking over the hillside toward me. A strutting longbeard was next to come over the hill but he had no interest in my decoys as he had his mind on other things. At 6:20 another longbeard came over the hill strutting straight toward my decoys. As the gobbler got to within 45 yards I decided to wait for a sure kill shot since I could see four other birds strutting at the end of the field. There were so many things happening as I could see in every direction at least 150 yards. As the second gobbler angled off toward the hens I was glad that I had waited because I was treated to a turkey show the next few minutes. The old gobbler at the end of the field decided it was time for the three other strutting gobblers to hit the road as he ran them off one at a time. Three jakes then checked out my decoys as they walked right up within twenty yards. 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 hillside that had three hens and he was strutting 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 couldnt 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 right in front of me. It was the heaviest longbeard that I've ever seen and he was on a dead run coming to my decoys. He was only sixty yards away when I first saw him but 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 as he was in full strutt. A soft puck from my mouth call made the old gobbler turn in my direction for a nice head shot 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 my 90 minutes of Missouri turkey hunting than I've seen in three weeks of Tennessee turkey hunting and I've been blessed to have killed three Tennessee turkeys this year.
I have hunted for 40 years and my priorities have changed over the years. Now its not all 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. The people at RutNBucks that help Mr. Dotson were all unbelievable people. Everyone at our camp all had two things in common, our love for being in the great outdoors and our love for God. Thank you, Mr. Fred and to all the RutNBucks helpers for the most exciting turkey hunt that I've ever been on but more importantly the friendship and fellowship we had in my three days that you shared with me.