These turkey hunters scored big in 2020

This is one of three gobblers that 84-year-old Otha Barham harvested this year in Lauderdale County. Barham killed the limit in only three trips to the woods.

Otha Barham tags out

Otha Barham raised his Berretta shotgun slowly, taking aim as a gobbler stretched out his neck looking for an unseen hen.

“I looked up, and three gobblers came out and started walking towards me and the decoys,” said Barham, 84, of Meridian. “I never even called as they came closer and closer. They came in so close together that I had to wait a long time for them to separate for fear of killing them all in one shot.”

Ka-Boom! Barham’s favorite shotgun roared, and his first bird was tagged. The gobbler had a long beard and sharp spurs and was the icing on the cake for a day in the outdoors well spent.

On his second hunt, Barham set up his decoys and quickly got into his blind.

“I looked up and saw a gobbler strutting towards the decoys,” he said. “That gobbler came straight to me like he was on a string. He walked around the decoys and I squeezed the trigger.”

The third time he hunted, he killed a big gobbler late in the afternoon, about 30 minutes before fly-up. The gobbler crossed a power line about 100 yards from Barham and spotted his decoys, but didn’t head his way. Then, just before dark, the gobbler came out of the woods and made a beeline for his decoys. Barham killed him as he approached his jake decoy.

“I’ve never had a season like this before,” Barham said. “I went hunting three times and killed three gobblers!”

Purple Heart recipient scores at 90

Ninety-year-old Korean Veteran and purple heart recipient Leroy Morse harvested this fine gobbler in east Mississippi near the Alabama line.

Leroy Morse of Meridian started turkey hunting after he retired, and he has become quite a gobbler slayer — winning a gun and turkey mount by killing the biggest turkey in one contest.

Morse, 90, who won a Purple Heart for service in the Korean War, located a few gobblers before the 2020 season and started hunting on the second day.

“I was hunting near the Alabama line in Lauderdale County at our old homeplace and had some hens come in pretty quick,” Morse said. “The gobbler was strutting and gobbling but stayed just out of range.”

Though he normally uses a Primos box cutter, Morse pulled out a small push-button call and yelped on it.

“The gobbler came straight to me gobbling all the way and I shot him with my Remington Sportsman 58 shotgun,” said Morse. “I’ve rarely ever missed with that shotgun.”

Morse’s gobbler sported a 10-inch beard and sharp spurs.

Double trouble: Retired teacher kills gobblers

Kathy Shortridge, a retired school teacher from Meridian, didn’t start turkey hunting until she married her husband, Allen, about 10 years ago.

The two combined on two nice birds this season hunting near Lumberton, with Allen doing the calling and Kathy the shooting, beginning on March 17.

Kathy Shortridge harvested this gobbler in south Mississippi and it had a 12-inch beard and 1 3/8-inch spurs while hunting with her husband Allen Shortridge this year. It was one of two that the retired teacher killed.
Kathy Shortridge harvested this gobbler in south Mississippi and it had a 12-inch beard and 1 3/8-inch spurs while hunting with her husband Allen Shortridge this year. It was one of two that the retired teacher killed.

“It rained early so we got into our hunting area about 7:30,” she said. “I was about ready to go at 9, but Allen wanted to stay a little longer.”

At 10 o’clock, they heard a gobble, so Allen Shortridge sent out some sweet love talk to the gobbler.

“I looked up and saw three gobblers coming in fast and I was so excited because I just knew I was going to get one,” Kathy Shortridge said. “The lead gobbler was strutting and gobbling, and he was just so beautiful that I enjoyed watching him, but I shot him, and he went straight down!”

She was totally focused and zeroed in on that gobbler,” Allen Shortridge said.

“I couldn’t believe what I’d just done,” Kathy Shortridge said. “I was so happy, we were jumping up and down and high fiving!”

On April 6, they returned to the same place and put out decoys, then heard a gobble from about 200 yards.

Allen Shortridge called to the tom, which gobbled at him almost immediately and started coming in strong, strutting and gobbling. Kathy Shortridge shot the gobbler at 41 yards with her Remington 20-gauge shotgun and TSS shot at 8:35 a.m.

Michael O. Giles
About Michael O. Giles 267 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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