No ground shrinkage on this hunt
Ground shrinkage. Most hunters hate it. They kill a big buck, and when they finally get to him on the ground, he’s not nearly as big as they thought he was in the crosshairs from their tree stands. That 140-inch buck becomes a 120-inch buck.
If there’s an opposite to ground shrinkage, Kasey Miller has experienced it.
This past Saturday morning, she killed a big turkey gobbler in Burke County, near her home in Morganton, N.C. When she got up and made her way 42 yards to the bird, it wasn’t a big gobbler anymore — it was a huge one.
The tom carried a 10 1/2-inch beard and 1 3/8-inch spurs, but its most amazing measurement was when Miller and her husband, Jon, weighed it.
“He looked bigger when I got to him than when I shot him,” Kasey Miller said. “Jon looked at him, picked him up and said he was one of the heaviest Easterns he’d ever picked up. He was a beautiful bird.
“One thing that made it more special is that the redbuds are usually in bloom during turkey season, but not this year; they blossomed before turkey season. But the dogwoods were in bloom, and that made it beautiful.”
Jon Miller, who runs Nature Creations Taxidermy in Morganton and is a past state calling champion on Dead End Game Calls’ pro staff, had actually roosted the bird the night before opening day of North Carolina’s spring gobbler season. He and his wife had gone to the woods and split up to listen for birds going to roost.
He found one on the side of a mountain.
Kasey Miller, a teacher with the Burke County school system, was close by the next morning.
“He wound up being a little farther down the mountain,” she said. “The woods woke up late that morning. I finally heard a gobble and made some soft yelps, some were yelps. I saw him on the roost; he was at about the same level as I was. He was gobbling and strutting on the limb. I heard a hen off to the left, so I started yelping more aggressively, to try and keep him away from her. Then, he flew down off the limb. I saw him fly down and I texted Jon.
One shot put the bird on the ground for good
“It was so cold — it was 28 when we got out of the truck — that I could see steam coming off of him. I could see the steam before I could see the turkey. And he had plenty of turkeys with him, some jakes. As soon as he popped up, there was no question this was the big bird. I shot him, and he hit the ground and flipped, and it was over and done.
“Jon was about 40 yards behind me. When the big turkey popped out he couldn’t see them. When I shot, he jumped up, and turkeys were taking off, flying everywhere. He asked, ‘Did you miss? Did you shoot the right one?’ I told him I killed the right one.”
Kasey Miller said she and her husband might have had a few past encounters with the big gobbler.
“There was a bird that gave us the runaround all of last season. Something happened every time we worked him,” Kasey Miller said. “I don’t know if it’s the same bird, but he roosted in the same basic area the bird stayed in last year.
“We typically don’t keep track of birds using trail cameras or anything,” she said. “We hunt a lot of game lands, and we have some private land. Usually, we just go out the night before, and one of us will find a gobbler. We went everyday during youth season, and seven kids harvested birds.”