Successful turkey outing was “not a textbook hunt”
Mark Shirey of Norway, S.C. has been turkey hunting his whole life, but he’d never killed one with multiple beards until this past Tuesday, March 24. While hunting with his wife in Colleton County, he killed a whopper of a gobbler that had 11 beards.
“I’m still just blown away by the whole thing. I never would have expected to kill a bird like that. I was actually trying to help my wife kill a turkey because she’s so limited on time with the kids and all. And it was definitely not a textbook hunt,” said Shirey.
The Shirey family started Team Terror a few years ago, and they sometimes video their hunts. Shirey said he was glad he didn’t have the camera there to distract him Tuesday.
“It’s just something we started for fun. We like to video our hunts but sometimes it just doesn’t work out. I’m glad I didn’t have the camera Tuesday because I’m not sure I would have killed this bird if I’d been trying to capture the hunt on video,” he said.
After doing some limited scouting over the weekend that did not produce any promise, Shirey and his wife Jordan headed to the field Tuesday around 3 p.m. It had rained earlier in the day, and when they arrived, some turkeys were already in the clearing. But when Shirey called to them, they didn’t even acknowledge the call.
“When those turkeys left, we tried to get something started with some other ones we heard, but that didn’t work out either,” he said.
Trophy turkey tried to sneak in the back door
Settling in for the long haul, Shirey put his back to the field, ensuring no turkeys would sneak up behind them unnoticed.
“In that spot, we’ve had them sneak up through the woods behind us in the past. So I was making sure that didn’t happen. Jordan was facing the field, and after a while, I had a turkey reply to my call. Then I saw three turkeys. They were sneaking up through the woods. I could tell two were jakes but I thought I saw a long beard on this one.”
“I tried to get Jordan to turn around so she could shoot it. But she was worried the movement would scare them away. She said she’d rather me shoot it,” he said.
The two jakes split away from the bigger turkey, which picked up the pace and quickly cut the distance between him and Shirey. It didn’t strut, didn’t gobble, and didn’t bow up like most gobblers do. It just came in quickly. At 30 yards, the hunter pulled the trigger on his Remington 870 12-gauge, sending the load of No. 5 shot from his 3 1/2-inch shell. The turkey dropped.
“I was sure I had seen a long beard. But right away, I second guessed myself. ‘Did I just shoot a jake?’ and when I picked it up and saw the spurs, I thought ‘oh man.’”
The 3/4-inch spurs didn’t impress Shirey. But as his wife took a closer look at the bird, she got excited. They Shirey saw what she was looking at — 11 beards.
Turkey will likely make top 5 in NWTF’s South Carolina records list
“It still seems so unreal. I just never would have thought something like this would happen to us. We kept counting the beards over and over, thinking we were counting some of them twice. It’s an awesome experience, and I’m glad I got to experience it with my wife. And I owe her a big one for letting me shoot it!” Shirey said.
The beards totaled more than 60 inches in length. Their sizes in order were 4 3/4 inches, 10 inches, 7 inches, 5 1/2 inches, 7 inches, 5 3/4 inches, 5 1/2 inches, 4 1/4 inches, 4 3/4 inches, 4 3/4 inches, and 1 1/2 inches. The turkey weighed about 20 pounds.
Shirey is expecting to have the turkey officially scored by an NWTF local chapter board member. Shirey’s rough estimate puts the score at 155. This should land the turkey in South Carolina’s top five in the NWTF records.
Once the official scoring is complete, Shirey will be dropping the bird off at Pernell’s Taxidermy to have a full body mount completed.