Big gobblers are still falling to Carolina hunters

The 2019 turkey hunting season continues to go exceptionally well for Carolina hunters.

2019 has been a great season for many hunters

Turkey hunters across the Carolinas continue to have lots of success. Some big turkeys have been killed in recent weeks, including some with multiple beards. It sounds like a broken record from our last turkey report, but good birds just keep falling to hunters across both states.

Jason Nabors of Clinton, S.C. killed a multiple-bearded gobbler on April 16 in Union County, S.C. The turkey scored 117 points by the NWTF’s grading scale, and is one of the top 25 turkeys killed in the Palmetto State.

The tom had four beards that combined for a total length of 38 inches. It had one 11-inch beard, and the other three were each 9-inches long. The turkey weighed 18 1/2 pounds and had 1 1/8-inch spurs.

Jason Nabors’ 4-bearded gobbler is one of the top 25 turkeys killed in South Carolina with a score of 117.

Rockingham County gives up double-bearded bird

Austin Taylor of Stokesdale, N.C. dropped a 25-pounder on April 25 in Rockingham County. His bird had two beards. The longest beard was 10-inches long, and the second beard measured 8 1/2 inches. It sported 1 3/4-inch spurs.

Austin Taylor killed this 25-pounder in Rockingham County, N.C. The bird had double beards.

Norman Smith of Rebel City, N.C. killed a 23+ pound gobbler on North Carolina’s opening day in Sampson County. The turkey had 1-inch spurs and a 9 1/2-inch beard.

Norman Smith killed this gobbler on North Carolina’s opening day in Sampson County. The bird weighed over 23 pounds.

Youth hunters are doing their part

Zachary Whitaker, 13-years-old of Lancaster, S.C. killed his first gobbler in his home county. The bird weighed 21 pounds and had a 10-inch beard. His dad, John Whitaker called the turkey in, and it’s not the only one he’s called for a youth hunter this season. He has also called in one for his nephew (his first gobbler) and his youngest son (also his first). And he doubled up himself on Easter Sunday with a duo of toms that each had 10-inch beards.

Zachary Whitaker of Lancaster, S.C. dropped this 21 pounder — his first gobbler in Lancaster County.

“It’s been the best season I’ve seen in a few years. On my property alone, I’ve seen around 30 toms, and plenty of jakes. That’s just on my 40 acres,” he said.

Twelve-year-old Samantha Johnson of Statesville, N.C. had a disappointing opening youth morning, but followed up with a good kill early the next day. Her dad, Mike Johnson called the bird in for her. The bird had an 11 1/4-inch beard and 1-inch spurs. Two early mornings in a row would be too much to ask for some 12-year-olds, but that wasn’t the case with Samantha.

Samanth Johnson of Statesville, N.C. hunted hard for two straight days to get her first gobbler in Iredell County.

“I took her opening morning of youth season and we hunted 3 1/2 hours. We saw a jake and several hens. And we had a gobbler steady gobbling at us the last hour of our hunt, but we couldn’t get him to commit. We went back the second morning before daylight and heard him gobble on the roost about 150 yards away from us,” said Mike Johnson, who was pretty sure this turkey would come within range pretty quickly.

Big gobbler couldn’t resist

“He was fired up that morning and would answer just about every time I would call. Finally, he came out of the woods and into the field. He appeared about 110 yards from us. He was just all fired up and gobbling every couple of minutes,” he said.

With a slate call, Johnson made some soft yelps and purrs, and it was too much for the gobbler to resist.

“It took him about 8 minutes to close the gap to 50 yards. I told her to get the gun ready. When he was at 40 yards, he stopped to gobble with his neck fully extended. She pulled the trigger and made a clean head shot at 40 yards,” he said.

We’ve got more turkey reports to bring you in the next few days, so stay tuned!

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Brian Cope
About Brian Cope 1598 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. He can be reached at