A Greensboro hunter ran into a huge turkey gobbler this past Saturday in Caswell County that may wind up being the second-heaviest tom ever killed in North Carolina.

Johnny Dinkins killed the big gobbler, which weighed 29 pounds, had 1 1/2-inch spurs and three beards, after a 2-hour morning hunt that ended with the tom trying to destroy his jake decoy just as Dinkins pulled the trigger.

“We’re excited,” said Dinkins, who is a board member for the N.C. Wildlife Habitat Foundation. “As soon as I picked him up, I knew he was no 20-pound bird. Then I rolled him over and saw the three beards. Then I pulled his legs out and saw his spurs and thought, ‘He’s a real limb-hanger.’”

Dinkins weighed the tom at 29 pounds even. Records kept by the National Wild Turkey Federation indicate that the heaviest turkey ever killed in North Carolina was a 34-pound gobbler taken in Pitt County in 2010 by Tom Williams. No other North Carolina birds weighing more than 28 3/4 pounds are in the record books.

The turkey’s three beards measured 9 1/2, 8 1/2 and 8 inches. Dinkins said one man measured the spurs at 1 3/4 inches and another at 1 5/8, but until he has them officially measured, he’s going with 1 1/2 inches. 

As for the turkey’s heft, Dinkins has an idea.

“I talked with Mike Seamster, who used to be the state’s turkey biologist, and he said, years ago, we took some bits from some northern states that were really big birds, and some of them were put in Alamance County,” he said. “This bird came from Caswell County, but we were only about 5 miles from Alamance County.”

Dinkins said he got the big turkey to gobble first around 6:30 on Saturday morning. For around 90 minutes, the bird paraded in front of him.

“I was calling with an old, raspy slate call, and he’d go 300 yards away and come back, several times, between 6:30 and 8 o’clock,” he said. “Then i pulled out a wing bone, and I guess it had a sweeter, softer sound to him. He was right in front of me in 30 minutes.

“It looked like he was going to go to the hen decoy, then he turned 90 degrees and went straight left to the jake decoy, and he put a whipping on him. I kept waiting, thinking, he’s got to come off that jake, because I didn’t want to shoot the jake decoy, too. But it went on for five minutes.

“He finally eased up; it looked like he stopped to take a big breath, and I pulled the trigger.”

The turkey fell dead at 33 yards.