Hunter harvests slumbering gobbler
Brookhaven area resident Ricky Case was excited when he was chosen for one of the limited draw hunts at Canemount WMA in Claiborne County. His chances were good being that he would be one of two hunters allowed on a three day hunt at the 3,500 acre WMA.
Case was plagued with bad weather on the first morning of his hunt and didn’t hear or see any turkeys. That afternoon he called in a tom and a hen, but ended up spooking them. The next morning he had a gobbler coming in ‘like he was on a string’ only to be spooked by three deer. The hunt wasn’t going as planned.
Later on in the morning Case called his wife, Celeste, poor-mouthing about his luck.
“I’ve messed up every way that I can mess up. It just ain’t meant for me to kill a turkey,” said Case.
The Lincoln county hunter drove to another spot and parked at a logging road on the southern end of the property. The wind had picked up a little and Case walked a hundred yards down the trail on top of a hill and called loudly with his mouth caller. He didn’t hear anything and kept going down hill toward a creek bottom.
Suddenly Case walks up on a big gobbler standing in the log road. His first thought was that the tom was coming up the trail silently to his calling. He raised his gun to shoot him — but there wasn’t a head to shoot at.
He lowers his gun and calls a few more times but the gobbler doesn’t move. Now Case is thinking that the WMA game wardens are playing a trick on him and set out a dummy decoy but left its head off.
So Case walked down to the turkey, within three steps, and could see the gobbler breathing with his head tucked underneath his wing.
“Well I guess this son-of-a-gun is asleep,” said the stunned hunter.
After snapping a few photos with his cell phone, Case walked back about 15 yards to get a good shot and called loudly, intending to wake the sleeping tom. The gobbler brought his head out from under his wing — sort-of looked back and forth, and then stuck his head back under his wing.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” blurted Case.
Being baffled, the Lincoln county hunter sat down in the middle of the logging road propped up ready to take a shot. Close to thirty minutes passed.
While Case was trying to find one of the WMA warden’s phone number to report this occurrence — the big gobbler wakes up. The tom pulled his head out, stood straight up, realized the hunter was sitting there, and decided it was time to leave. Ricky was ready and connected with a killing shot to the head.
The big tom sported a 10-inch beard, 7/8-inch sharp spurs, and weighed 18 pounds. The turkey was estimated to be three years old.
Case tried to make sense of the event that had taken place with the sleeping gobbler. He wasn’t sure if the turkey was exhausted from fighting or breeding. The previous night was a bright moon-lit night, maybe the tom didn’t sleep.
While cleaning the turkey, Case discovered two shotgun pellet wounds in its breast area. He had shot the gobbler in the head and maybe these were strays from his shell. Or, it’s possible that the turkey had been shot by another hunter and wounded him — this is what Case thinks is most likely causing the strange behavior in the gobbler.
“I wasn’t going to shoot him like that (sleeping), I just couldn’t do it,” says Case. “But when he woke up and realized I was sitting there, he figured it was time for him to go — I didn’t let him walk.”