His big gobbler had been dead a good half-hour before Monty Mesimer of Atkinson noticed there was something unusual about the Pender County tom. He had more beards than he was supposed to. Quite a few more.
“We took him home to show my wife, and I looked down, and I said, ‘He’s got two beards,’” said Mesimer, who along with hunting buddy Jeff Huggins of Roseboro had doubled up on two big gobblers late on the afternoon of April 13.
“Then, a buddy of mind, Ronnie Young, came over to see him, and I got to looking some more, and I said, ‘Dog, he’s got three beards.’ Then, I got to really examining him, and I said, ‘He’s got four!’”
Those four beards, measuring 9 7/8, 2 1/8, 7 ¾ and 3 ¼ inches, together with a 20-pound body and spurs measuring 1 5/16 and 1 3/8 inches, made the turkey something extra, extra special. Another friend, hearing the measurements, chimed in. ‘”Monty, you’ve got to get that bird scored.”
The final score, certified by the National Wild Turkey Federation, was 104.045 points, putting the bird at the No. 33 spot among North Carolina turkeys with more than one beard or “atypical” features.
“It could have scored a lot higher,” Mesimer said. “I shot him straight on, and it looks like I cut one beard in half with the shot.”
The kill culminated a great afternoon hunt for Mesimer and Huggins, the latter a moderator on NorthCarolinaSportsman.com’s forums.
“Every time we go on a hunt, something awesome happens,” said Mesimer, who killed a 22 ½-pound bird with 1 ½-inch spurs and a 12 ½-inch beard hunting with Huggins the last day of the 2014 season.
Mesimer and Huggins didn’t have a hunt planned before Huggins called him the morning of April 13, said he was going to be in Mesimer’s neighborhood and wondered if they couldn’t get together and chase a gobbler or two.
“I didn’t have any plans, so I said, ‘Come on, we’ll see if we can get on ‘em,’” Mesimer said.
That invitation led to four hours chasing turkeys across the 7,200-acre Cone’s Folly Timber Farm that Mesimer manages.
The pair headed to an area called “the big ditch” where they called in two gobblers. Looking for the birds to get positioned perfectly so both hunters could get a shot, one of the gobblers sensed that something was wrong, and the two toms took off.
Later, they played hide-and-seek with six gobblers they glassed in a distant field, belly crawling through the woods several times to try to get in the right spot. Finally, around 5:30, Mesimer figured out where the toms were going to roost and led Huggins on an end run to get in their way.
“By the time we got there, they had started to head off in another direction, but I said, ‘Hold tight,’ We were between them and where they wanted to roost. Then, they started to feed back to us,” Mesimer said. “We tried to get in position to both get a good shot. We couldn’t tell what they were going to do, so we got down and belly crawled and got within 15 yards of the field edge. We were lucky we got that close without being spotted with so many birds out there.”
Mesimer said four nice longbeards and two jakes were in front of them. It took them 15 or 20 yards to feed into range from 75 yards out, and then things started to happen.
“The bird Jeff wanted stepped out, but Jeff didn’t have a shot,” Mesimer said. “My bird stepped out in front and started feeding, then Jeff said he had a shot, and real quick, we said, ‘One, two, three,’ then, ‘Boom! Boom!’
“I shot and killed my bird, and Jeff shot at his and missed, and the bird he shot at got up and flew off. Another bird behind my bird started to run and take off, and Jeff shot that bird.
“I looked at Jeff and said, ‘It don’t get no better than this,’” Mesimer said.
Huggins' bird was a 20-pound tom with an 11-inch beard, no slouch unless it’s on the tailgate of a pickup truck next to a bird with four beards.