The odds – this or any spring – that a North Carolina turkey hunter would shoot a 21-pound gobbler with twin beards and 1 3/8-inch spurs and name the bird "Buttercup" are about 1,000-to-1.

But that's what Emma Stone did on Youth Day (April 7) in Edgecombe County.

  And it was pretty much old hat for her: she had dropped her first gobbler six years earlier. Moreover, 16 days after she shot the huge bird with the double beard, she filled out her tags with a giant thunder chicken (23½ pounds, 10-1/4-inch beard, 1 3/8- and 1 7/16-inch spurs).

  The budding sportswoman was hunting both times with her dad, Keith Stone, of Red Oak, along with family friend and guide, Patrick Murphy of Rocky Mount.

  "I've killed four turkeys," said Emma, a 4th grader at Rocky Mount Academy. "I killed my first one when I was 4-years old."

   Her father, a N.C. Highway Patrol captain based in Raleigh, said Emma is the oldest of his three daughters but the only one who takes an active interest in hunting.

  "She just loves it," he said. "She doesn't mind putting on camouflage. Her sisters have to wear pink."  

  After learning to shoot a .410 shotgun when she was just a tot, Emma bagged her first gobbler at 12 yards. And she's really a good shot, having graduated to a 20-gauge.

   "I like it when they come to the decoys and you see them coming," she said. "My (P.E. teacher) also hunts, and he likes it when I bring pictures to schools of the turkeys I got. He said not many people had done what I did this year, killed two gobblers."

   She is learning to use a mouth call and has pretty much mastered a box call.

   "I got one jake to come close, but I didn't shoot because I wanted a bigger one," she said.

  Murphy enjoys volunteering to guide hunters.

   "Keith wanted me to help put his daughter on a bird," Murphy said. "We hunted his private land near Swift Creek."

   Before daylight they drove to the land and parked a couple hundred yards from where Murphy knew a gobbler had a strutting zone next to a field connected to a swamp by a logging road. He placed a blind at the edge of the field facing the road.

  "We parked and waited for him to sound off, and he gobbled at daylight," Murphy said. "So we took off and put up the blind."

  Murphy placed a DSD Full Strut Gobbler decoy he calls "Poundcake" about 20 yards from the blind, along with a DSD hen decoy.

  Murphy began a calling sequence when he was in the blind with the Stones.


  "I was on the right, Keith was on the left and Emma was in the middle with her 20-gauge auto-loader," Murphy said. "He was probably 125 to 150 yards from us when we first heard him. He flew down and walked right down the logging road."

  He only made a few yelps and cuts using a mouth call after waiting for the tom to gobble first.


  "It's 'reverse calling,' " said Murphy, who bagged the state-record archery tom in 2008. "I let a turkey gobble first, then I call to him. I talked to this bird right much. I guess I did eight to 10 volleys. I enjoy reverse calling, and it seems to work for me."

  Once the gobbler got within 25 yards, Emma Stone nailed him with one shot to the neck.

   "Emma deserves a ton of credit," Murphy said. "Before he ever hit the ground, I told her to be careful and not shoot Poundcake. When she pulled the trigger, she shaved part of Poundcake's tail fan off. But she didn't have a lot of room for error and did as good as any veteran would have done." 

  The turkey's two beards measured 10 and 5½ inches long.

   For her second bird, Emma Stone had asked for help with her math homework when two gobblers appeared across a field.


  "The first question that morning was 'What is 30 squared?' " Murphy said. "It's the first time I've officially helped do homework while hunting."

   Seconds later, Keith Stone spotted two reddish-white heads, trailed by a hen.

  "The wind was so bad I had to switch from a mouth call to a wing bone," Murphy said. "First series of yelps and their heads snap up and they leave the hen, coming on strong, running. It's the fastest I've ever seen two gobblers cover 150 yards."

   Within 15 seconds, the largest bird was face to face with Poundcake, and Emma dropped the hammer on him.

   "Both are fantastic birds for the girl, but they also would be for any turkey hunter," Murphy said.