Trap Hill’s John Money is an avid hunter and has spent enough time outdoors to have seen numerous bearded hens and white gobblers over the years, and he’s killed his share of what most hunters would consider trophies, but he killed a true, record-book trophy on April 30 when he shot a bearded hen that is the new North Carolina NWTF record.
Weighing over 12 pounds and sporting a 9 1/2-inch beard, Money’s hen scores 31.0625 on the NWTF’s scale, and displaces Josh Pruitt’s hen, who had just broken the 3-year-old bearded hen record for North Carolina on April 27.
Aside from being the new top bearded hen in the Tarheel State, it’s ranked 12th among bearded hens in the world.
The hunt, said Money, was pretty standard for the hunts that go right, and he did not realize the turkey was a bearded hen until he was halfway to the bird after shooting it.
“I was so focused on the beard, and a little surprised that this bird showed up so quickly, that I didn’t even notice it was a hen until after I shot it,” he said.
It was a mid-day hunt in Surry County on that Saturday, and Money said it took more time to get into the woods and get set up than the rest of the hunt did.
“I called with my Knight and Hale Silver Queen slate call once, and a gobbler immediately answered. I could tell he was about 400 yards away. He gobbled again after a minute, and I could hear that he was closer, and heading our way,” said Money.
What Money didn’t know, is that another turkey – the bearded hen – was slipping in quietly.
“Something caught my eye as I was looking in the direction I knew the gobbler would approach. I looked and saw it was another turkey. All I saw was the beard swinging, and it was already close and coming in,”
With his Mossy Oak Obsession camouflage concealing him, Money pulled the trigger on his Mossberg 835 12-gauge outfitted with a Kicks GT680 turkey choke, sending hot lead from his 3 1/2-inch Winchester turkey load to the bird’s head.
“The turkey flopped a couple of times, and then went still. I got up and headed over to get it, and about halfway there, I realized it was a bearded hen,” he said.
After observing the size of the beard and the size of the hen itself, Money realized he had something special.
“I didn’t necessarily think it was a state record at first, but I knew it was something. I knew I needed to do some research and see exactly what I had,” he said.
When Money called the NWTF, they gave him contact information for a scoring expert, who did all the measurements, and came to the score of 31.0625, which cleanly beats Pruitt’s hen, which scored 29.42.
Money said he couldn’t be happier about the experience, noting that it has been exicting and humbling at the same time.
“This record might stand for 15 years, or it might be broken before this season is out, but it’s just an honor to have the North Carolina state record, and to have the 12th highest-scoring bearded hen in the world. I spend a lot of time in the woods, and it’s just great to have something like this happen,” he said.