Dakota Brown, a 14-year-old freshman at Ledford High School in Davidson County, was hunting with his father, Tommy Brown, in Rockingham County when he killed a huge gobbler that carried a set of enormous spurs and will likely rank among the 30 biggest ever taken in North Carolina.
The gobbler charged past their tent blind from behind and basically stomped a gobbler and hen decoy 30 yards in front of them.
"Daddy called in the bird," said Dakota Brown, who killed the big gobbler for only the second turkey of his hunting career.
"I was using a mouth call and just made a couple of soft yelps," said the elder Brown, who has had leased land in northern Rockingham County for several years.
The Browns were in a 2-man blind by 5:10 a.m., with a Killer B gobbler decoy (with real tail feathers) and a hen decoy set up in a field in front of the blind, which was set up alongside a roadbed that led to the field.
They heard three gobblers that morning, but it was the last one that provided a special experience.
"A pair of hens had roosted in some trees a few hundred yards up on a ridge from the field, and they started yelping before daylight," said Tommy Brown, who yelped at them a few times to start a long-distance conversation. "Then we heard them fly down, but they wouldn't call back at me."
It was several hours later before the trophy gobbler appeared.
"We'd sat there three hours and 45 minutes – it was about 8:45 – when I shot him," Dakota Brown said. "He was somewhere to the left of us, a good ways off."
Tommy Brown said a couple of hens visited the field, yelping and scratching, about 8:25.
"We heard a gobbler holler over the ridge, and the hens, down to our left, their heads rose up, and they started cuttin' loose (yelping)," he said.
When the gobbler showed up, the show started.
"He walked in behind us, and we didn't know it," Dakota Brown said. "We were looking out the front of the blind at the hens when he gobbled 15 yards behind us. Then, he ran past our blind, headed straight for the decoys."
When the gobbler reached the decoys, it knocked both of them down, then stomped and pecked at the fake gobbler.
"That's when I shot him," said Dakota Brown, who was shooting No. 5 shot from his single-shot, full-choked 20-gauge shotgun.
The turkey appeared unfazed by the load of shot.
"He just started walking away, like I hadn't touched him," Dakota Brown said. "He kept walking and walking, then he lifted up his head and started flapping his wings and fell over, still trying to get up. I got out of the blind and ran to him as fast as I could so he couldn't get away.
The turkey weighed 21-1/2 pounds, had a 10-7/8-inch beard and spurs that measured 1-9/16ths and 1-1/2 inches. Brothers Justin and Scott Decker scored it, and Tommy Brown mailed the score sheet to National Wild Turkey Federation headquarters in Edgefield, S.C., two days later.
If the total score of 73.875 is confirmed - the NWTF also must receive photos of the bird's beard and spurs beside a measuring tape and a form signed by the Deckers - Dakota Brown's gobbler will rank 29th in the NWTF's all-time North Carolina records as a typical gobbler.
"My dad guessed this turkey is four or five years old," Dakota said. "My friends at school are proud of me, and some of them want to go turkey hunting now."
The NWTF's scoring system gives gobblers one point for each pound of live weight, 10 points for each inch of spur length and two points for each inch of beard length. Birds with multiple beards are considered non-typical.