Magicians make a habit of pulling rabbits out of hats, but southeastern Caswell County’s Tim Warren figuratively yanked one of North Carolina’s all-time gobblers out of a hat on May 2. Then he literally did it again seconds later — after the bird had flown away.

Not only did Warren bag a four-bearded turkey — without using a call — but he got the rare chance to anchor the bird a second time after his first shot at 25 yards.

The 20-pound “atypical” (multiple beards) gobbler had chest brushes measuring 11.625, 9.500, 8.500 and 7.375 (37 total) inches and identical spurs of 1.750 inches. As scored by the National Wild Turkey Federation’s formula, its weight, beards and spur lengths added to 129 points, ranking it No. 18 all-time in North Carolina. 

The hunt actually began during rabbit season.

“Some good friends and I hunt rabbits (with beagles) at a Person County farm where we also hunt deer,” Warren said. “So one day we meet a farmer spreading lime and fertilizer. He told us if we were interested in a really big gobbler (in the spring), he knew where one crossed a paved road at nearly the same time every day. The bird went from one field to another.”

Neither his buddies nor Warren, who arrowed a 10-point buck that grossed 162 inches at the farm in 2016, had seen the gobbler or any signs of its presence. They forgot about the turkey tale until late in the 2018 spring season. 

“I’d heard about ‘ghost’ gobblers my whole life, and this seemed like it might be one,” the 37-year-old vinyl-graphics installer said. 

That Wednesday Warren and hunting partner Ethan Rimmer of Cedar Grove parked a truck in darkness near the field where the turkey crossed regularly.

“One started gobbling at 6:45 a.m. from a tree (across the field) less than 15 minutes after we got there,” Warren said. “He was gobbling at cars going by on the road.”

The hunter made a slow loop in the woods to get nearer the bird, taking his time and making as little noise as possible.

“But I got too close,” Warren said. “I creeped up right on top of the gobbler, maybe 25 yards from me in the field. A jake was 40 yards farther out.” 

Dressed in full Mossy Oak Break-Up Country camouflage, including head mask and gloves, Warren didn’t use a turkey call.

“I learned years ago if you’re 75 yards from a gobbler, get in shooting range and don’t call,” he said.

Warren raised his Browning Gold 3½ automatic loaded with Triple Beard blended pellets, aimed at the bird’s neck and fired.

“But the shot sounded odd,” he said. “The turkey started running and flew up into a tree.”

Warren watched closely. A scared turkey often will sail hundreds of yards. This gobbler covered perhaps 30 yards before settling on a limb.

“He was hunkered up in a ball; I knew he was hurt bad,” he said.

A second shot brought the tom to the forest floor.

Warren, who has taken “60 or 70” turkeys, said it was his first multi-bearded gobbler.

The turkey’s 1.75-inch spurs tied for second all-time among N.C. gobblers with a 2002 Warren County bird taken by Danny Hayes. Only Randy Mabe’s 2005 Rockingham gobbler with 1.9375-inch spurs was longer.

Joe Fuller owns the N.C. and world-record multi-bearded gobbler mark for a 2008 eight-bearded Edgecombe County bird that scored 195.500.