Hunter kills six-bearded gobbler in Claiborne County

Ryan Lewis of Vicksburg was turkey hunting in Claiborne County when he killed his first turkey, which had six beards, on April 23.
Ryan Lewis of Vicksburg was turkey hunting in Claiborne County when he killed his first turkey, which had six beards, on April 23.

Ryan Lewis has been turkey hunting for the last few years, and he was in search of his first gobbler when he went to his Claiborne County hunting area last week.

Lewis, of Vicksburg, had located a gobbler the week before and was back in the woods at 5:00 a.m. on April 23 hoping for a different outcome than during previous hunts.

“I got to a food plot that had three trails going out of it, so I chose the trail that went to the bottom where I was hearing him,” Lewis said. “An owl called once or twice and didn’t hear anything, so I walked about 200 yards and hooted at him again. I realized he was only about 150 yards away when he gobbled so I went ahead and set up and started calling and he gobbled on the limb four to five times and hens started calling to him. I started calling back to the hens and realized that they were across a creek.

“I was really lucky and didn’t know much about calling turkeys, but I’d gone hunting with my dad and watched videos, so I got really aggressive with the hens, and it paid off. They came across the creek, and it seemed liked the gobbler didn’t want to cross over.”

The gobbler was also across the creek and wasted little time flying across after the hens.

“When he came across the creek, he was right behind the hens and they were all close together,” Lewis said. “I had to wait until they separated but when they did, I shot him, and the hunt was over pretty quickly.”

How many beards?

Ironically the 16 ½ pound bird had six beards totaling 53 inches: 8, 8 2/16, 8 6/16, 8 10/16, 8 6/16, 11 8/16.

“I called my boss up and told him what I had killed and he said, ‘man you have something special there,'” Lewis said. “So I took him up to Delta Outfitters in Vicksburg to get him scored for the turkey hunting contest, which I wasn’t in because I was just turkey hunting to pass the time between my deer and duck hunting.”

The people at Delta Outfitters told him he needed to call the game warden, Lee Harvey, to get scored. Harvey measured the gobbler and came up with a total score of 143.125!

Lewis harvested the gobbler with a Winchester SX4 12-gauge shotgun while using Federal Premium TSS #9 shot with an Indian Creek choke.

“Being naïve to turkey hunting I asked him if that score was good,” Lewis said. “He said ‘son that is great!’”

The gobbler would be the No. 5 ranked gobbler killed in Mississippi if the numbers are confirmed and submitted.

After a somewhat dull year, having only called up a few jakes, Lewis could still hear that old gobbler down in the bottom, but he kept after him even though he was discouraged after hunting 2 years and chasing birds up and down those hills until the time was right. In the process he harvested his first bird and it turned out to be one of the best ever killed and registered in Mississippi. Such a blessing and lifetime memory he gained in the process!

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About Michael O. Giles 372 Articles
Mike Giles of Meridian has been hunting and fishing Mississippi since 1965. He is an award-winning wildlife photographer, writer, seminar speaker and guide.

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