Rob Bennett finally got a day off Wednesday from his Lowcountry Inshore Charters fishing guide service after 15 straight days on the water, and he took advantage of it – and inexpensively, too.

One 3-1/2-inch shotgun shell packed with copper-plated No. 4 shot was all he needed to bag two mature gobblers in a cypress-tupelo swamp in Orangeburg County on April 25.

Patience and a little marksmanship proved successful for Bennett, who guides fishermen for a living and turkey hunts for pleasure. His last-ditch effort and a timely bit of hesitation paid off.

 

"I was seconds away from standing up and blowing these birds off," he said.

 

The day began slowly, with only a single bird gobbling off in the distance, too far away to interest him. Bennett picked up, moved across a secluded hayfield, scratching out a few yelps on his slate call every 50 to 75 yards. He reached the lower end of the field, stepped into the woods and into the edge of the swamp and called once more. Within seconds, hens responded at only 100 to 150 yards away cackling at his familiar melody.

 

He immediately deployed his decoy and sat down next to a tree, listening to continuous bickering among the corral of hens carrying on in the distance. A few minutes later, he hit his slate call again, and several gobblers quickly responded on the far side of the cackling hens. For the next 45 minutes, Bennett and the gobblers exchanged pleasantries, with the toms responding to every cluck, purr and yelp he made.

 

"The hens continued to ruckus around, and the toms gobbled over 200 times, but then they all stopped suddenly," Bennett said.

 

He wasn't sure what had happened, but the woods were quiet, and he sat for 10 minutes, waiting for any kind of noise. Having hunted turkeys for more than 30 years, he knew to sit still, planning to stay put at least until 9 a.m.

 

 

"At 9, I decided to make one final call before I abandoned these birds, and Boom! They responded at 50 yards to my left," he said

 

 

He hadn't heard a peep out of the toms for 20 minutes, but all of the sudden, they were closing fast. In 10 seconds, they appeared, heading straight for the decoy.

 

 

"They looked like two snowballs walking through the woods," he said.

 

 

At 25 yards, he waited until both turkeys' heads were lined up, squeezed the trigger, and both birds flopped.

 

 

"I'm not sure what happened in those 20 minutes, but it was a huge surprise," he said.

 

 

 

His birds were mature birds, one with an 11-inch beard and the other with a 7-1/2-inch beard.