Mark Leopold Triple Beard Turkey
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By Mark Leopold ( May 2000 )

5:15 a.m. on opening morning of turkey season in upstate New York found me walking across my back field in a hurry to set up my decoy's before first light. I was still sixty yards from the blind I had set up earlier in the spring when I heard a gobbler sound off in the tree's somewhere near my stand. I set up the decoy's as quickly as I could, all the while the turkey was sounding off every minute or so. While I waited for first light, I arranged my calls next to my left hand, pulled on the leafy 3-d camo head net and gloves which had me covered me head to toe in leafy camo, and placed my 11-87 Remington 12 ga. three inch mag. loaded with Remington's new one and three quarter ounce # 5's across my lap and waited for dawn.

When there was just enough light to see, I placed the "Quaker boy" call in my mouth and tried a fly down cackle... it worked! the gobbler responded to almost my every call. I was pretty sure there were two hens with the gobbler, so I knew I had my work cut out for me. Finally ,around 6 a.m. the turkey came into sight about eighty yards away to my left. He was fanned out and courting a couple of hens. “Man, he's a big one“! I thought, as he pumped and strutted, gobbling every few seconds. Now they drifted away out of sight so I tried purring and yelping just loud enough to be heard. To my surprise he responded to quite a few of my calls, but still could not steer him in my direction.

Around 6:30 a.m., I spotted a hen nearing the edge of the tree line sixty or so yards away to my left, the gobbler still held up in the tree line out of range. I decided to try calling louder to coax him out into the field and hopefully notice my jake and hen set-up that were set up twenty yards in front of me. To my utter surprise the big boy stepped out in the field. He was within fifty yards of my position now so I flipped up the scope caps and prepared to try and take him at around forty yards. The big boy was definitely checking out the decoy's now. I tried a new set-up this year with a breeding pair - the hen was placed slightly above the ground on one short stake and the jake above and along side the hen on a longer stake with twelve pound test clear fishing line wrapped around the tail. A tap of my foot made the jake decoy bob above the hen and old Mr. turkey really took notice of that! All of a sudden the gobbler pulled his fan in ,dropped his head and started to run right at my decoy's! Quickly I put the Remington to my shoulder, located the gobbler in the scope and prayed to myself "stop! stop! stop“! The turkey was charging in so fast and close I thought I would miss or he would reach the decoy's and figure out that something was really wrong with his situation and spook. I centered the crosshairs on his neck a few inches below his head and pulled the trigger. KA POW! the shotgun roared, feathers flew everywhere and the big gobbler dropped in his tracks.

The time was now 6:55 a.m. The distance was thirteen yards when I paced off the distance to my bird. When I went to claim my trophy bird, I made a surprising discovery, this bad boy has three beards! the longest was ten inches the next was seven and one quarter and the third was six and tree quarters inches . The spurs were 1.25 inches each. The weight after field dressing was twenty two pounds. The fan spread was thirty and one half inches. This was my storybook hunt of a lifetime and I will never forget it.

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