Rhonda Snyder, of Orange County, killed a jake on her first turkey hunt 13 years ago within the first hour of setting foot in the woods, and while that gave her the impression that turkey hunting was a pretty easy sport, she has failed to bag a longbeard every year since then. Until this year.
“Since that first success, we’ve tried year after year to get her a shot at an adult gobbler, and have had many, many encounters during that time, but an opportunity to shoot never presented itself. The bird was too far, cover was too thick, bird was too skittish or walking too fast, etc. We’ve managed to come up short, time and time again,” said Kenny Snyder, Rhonda’s husband and hunting partner.
But this season, on the opening morning of April 9, the couple worked a gobbler into range to put her luckless streak to an end, but even this encounter wasn’t the easiest one for her.
“This gobbler almost managed to keep Rhonda’s bad luck streak alive. Initially, he seemed to have read the script. We had him coming straight in to our setup, but just as he got in range, he veered off course and began skirting us to our left at a slow but steady pace,” he said.
Strangely, the bird had walked past the decoys and was intent to just keep on trucking right past the two hunters as well.
“The bird would not stop walking no matter what I tried. Finally, as the gobbler was just about to reach a point beyond which a chance to shoot would be possible, Rhonda tripped the trigger, sending a load of Federal Heavyweight 7s in the direction of the turkey’s head and neck. Her shot was true, and the big tom folded in his tracks at 33 yards, ending our 13-year quest for a longboard,” said Snyder.
And this wasn’t just any gobbler. The longbeard weighed 19 pounds, had spurs over an inch long, and had a 12-inch beard.
Helping end his wife’s 13-year drought was definitely special to Snyder, and something else made it even more special.
“Jason Terry and his partner Troy Blalock of Tobacco Row Custom Calls made a beautiful glass call for me to commemorate my dad with his last gobbler before passing a couple of years ago. This is my first year using the call, and I have found it to be a really neat way to sort of take my dad along with me as I continue the turkey hunting tradition,” he said
The Snyders are having the turkey mounted by Craig Hall Taxidermy in Mebane.