Stanley Farmer of Stoneville, N.C. was expecting to see a gobbler and probably get a shot when he headed to a series of connected food plots on a Rockingham County, N.C. farm shortly after lunch on April 17, but the long-time turkey hunter wasn't prepared for either the show he was treated to, or the trophy turkey with seven beards he bagged around 1:30 p.m.
"A gobbler answered my first call," Farmer said. "I quickly put out a decoy and set up. It was a little above me and I've always had good luck calling turkeys downhill, so I was excited.
"Once I got set up, I called a couple more times to try to get him interested and it appeared to be working. He continued to gobble and it sounded like he was coming in. A few minutes later, I called again and another gobbler answered from a different direction.
"When the second turkey gobbled, the first turkey responded to it and it seemed both began to close the distance quicker," Farmer said. "I spotted a bobbing head coming down the logging road in the direction of the first gobbler and then realized a second one was with it. Just after I saw them, they spotted the decoy and went nuts gobbling and rushing in. The other turkey was coming up a creek bed to my right and hearing the two turkeys after they spotted the decoy got it fired up too. It speeded up and came charging in also.
"At this point, I had three nice gobblers all blowed up, strutting and gobbling right in front of me," Farmer said. "They were so close I could hear them spit!"
Farmer said he watched the show a little while trying to size up the three birds. They were all about the same, with what he estimated to be 10 to 11 inch beards. There wasn't a bird that stood out, so he steadied his aim and took the best shot that was presented. The No. 4 load of Winchester Super XX from his 3-inch shells found the mark and the chosen turkey collapsed in a heap. The others scattered.
Farmer, who was hunting with a Remington 870 pump over a Mossy Oak Turkey Thug hen decoy and calling with an HS Strut mouth call, said he didn't notice anything extraordinary until he got to the turkey and rolled it over for a good look. That’s when he noticed the beard. In his excitement in the field, he counted six beards. A pair of NWTF representatives later determined it was seven beards.
"I don't usually take pictures of dead turkeys, but I realized this one was special, so I called my daughter to come take some pictures," Farmer said. "I shot a turkey with three beards several years back and thought that was special, but it didn't compare to this. Another thing that made this special was I was hunting with the shotgun of my uncle who passed away last year. It shot for me just as well as it used to for him and now I have a trophy turkey taken with it."
Farmer said he was surprised the bird, which weighed 16.6 pounds and had 7/8-inch spurs, wasn't a little larger. He estimated it was a second year bird and will know more once the NWTF completes their scoring.
The real story with this turkey is the multiple beards. They measured (1) 5 1/8 inches, (2) 6 5/8 inches, (3) 6 inches, (4) 7 1/4 inches, (5) 7 3/4 inches, (6) 7 7/8 inches and (7) 10 1/4 inches. That's a lot of chest hair for any turkey to be sporting.