Allen Shortridge cut his teeth hunting in the mountains of West Virginia and later in Florida during his youth. It was later in life, however, that he became an avid turkey hunter and he’s become very successful at calling up and harvesting the tough Eastern Wild Turkeys.
Last Friday, March 19, 2021, Shortridge was back in the woods before daylight hoping to notch another victory with a particular Lauderdale County gobbler that had eluded him on a couple of occasions.
“I got into the woods before daylight and didn’t hear any gobbles early,” Shortridge said . “It was really overcast and cold and I was really dejected and discouraged because I’d called up four longbeards since the season opened but had not yet been able to score.”
It seemed like something happened at just the wrong moment, or the birds didn’t clear the thick cover and he passed for fear of wounding them.
With nothing to lose Shortridge decided to call again.
“I tried my little slate and didn’t hear a peep,” Shortridge said. “I followed up the slate with a Primos Will 1 mouth call and really bore down on it. I believe in aggressive calling when needed so I ratcheted up the volume with a series of raspy calls and everything broke lose then.”
Shortly after Shortridge ramped up his calling two or three hens came running and things were really heating up.
“I looked to my right behind the hens and saw wings flapping and realized a gobbler was mating a hen and beyond him another gobbler was coming in,” he said. “The hen came right into range with both gobblers following in full strut.”
51st turkey for Shortridge
The gobblers made a semi-circle and strutted right into the veteran hunter’s range. Both gobblers were trophies and Shortridge was ready for them to make a wrong move.
“That gobbler finally got close enough and I wasn’t going to wait any longer, so I took a fine bead on him and slowly squeezed the trigger,” Shortridge said.
Shortridge’s Browning Gold Hunter Shotgun roared, and the turkey collapsed in a heap. Shortridge killed this, his 51st turkey, while using the Brown turkey gun, with Federal 3rd Degree shells. The Browning was fitted with a 28-inch barrel with a Super Full turkey choke.
“I’ve been preaching for 55 years and hunting turkeys since 1968,” he said. “I’ve hunted in several states in this country, and I can tell you that the eastern strain birds we have here in Mississippi and Lauderdale County are by far the toughest gobblers to hunt and harvest.”
One of the things Shortridge knows about turkeys is that they are prone to act different every day. No matter what you think they’re going to do they may do the opposite.
“The reason we can’t predict what a turkey is going to do is that they don’t even know what they are going to do themselves,” Shortridge said. “You’ve just got to learn the land you’re hunting as well as where the turkeys like to roost and where there strutting zone is.”
Shortridge’s trophy gobbler sported a 12-inch beard, bore sharp 1-inch spurs, and weighed nearly 20 pounds!
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