Six-bearded gobbler fell on West Bay Wildlife Management Area.
Thirty-one year old Dustin Pole, who lives in Welsh, was understandably disappointed when his name was not drawn for the first of three lottery turkey hunts on West Bay Wildlife Management Area this past season. The third time, though, proved to be charmed as he was selected for the third and final lottery hunt.
And that hunt resulted in Pole bagging what is will be the state non-typical wild turkeys, if it receives final certification.
“I had gotten to take my 9-year-old cousin on a youth hunt on West Bay this year and called up a gobbler for him,” Pole said. “Unfortunately, he missed.”
When he was notified of his selection for the third lottery hunt slated for the weekend of April 6-7, Pole went to the area he planned to hunt Friday afternoon to try and locate a bird to hunt the following morning.
“A flock of crows began cawing causing a gobbler to shock-gobble down in the bottom across the clearcut near where I parked,” he explained. “I walked back to the truck, waiting until fly-up time when I saw another truck drive in from the other side of the clearcut.
“I was able to hear a turkey fly up to roost, so I was ready for the next morning’s hunt.”
When he got to his spot the next morning — long before daylight— another truck was parked where he’d planned to leave his truck.
Pole decided to ease around to another road that led to the area.
“I parked and eased into the woods, waiting for daylight,” he said. “As it started getting light, I heard two gobblers each gobble only one time.
“I didn’t call because I knew hunting pressure had made the birds wary of calls, so I waited until I heard them fly down before softly yelping and clucking on my diaphragm call.”
Never getting a response from these gobblers after fly-down, Pole began concentrating on another gobbler he heard behind him, one that gobbled several times.
“I decided to try for him, and began easing down an old road, rounded a bend and the gobbler was standing in the road,” Pole said. “I’m not sure if he saw me, but about that time a coyote came running down the road and that about sealed the deal; this turkey had been seriously spooked.”
Pole gave it a few minutes and eased into the woods toward where the spooked bird had gone, hoping he’d eventually settle down and start gobbling. That bird never did, but another one began gobbling out in front a couple hundred yards.
“I eased in to within 100 yards or so toward the bird, and made the decision to try and get him fired up. Soft-calling had produced little or no response, so I stuck my Primos diaphragm call between my teeth and showered down on him with loud yelps and cuts,” Pole said. “That got him fired up, and he started gobbling steadily and getting closer.
“A minute later, he came strutting in and I shot him at 15 yards.”
Pole had no idea what he had; he just knew he’d killed a nice, mature gobbler — until further exam revealed six beards.
Friends suggested that such an unusual bird might qualify for some sort of state record, so Pole contacted the National Wild Turkey Federation.
When the score of 134.625 was totaled, Pole was stunned to note that gobbler, if officially approved, his bird will sit atop the state list for non-typical gobblers taken in Louisiana, besting the current record by almost eight points.
Pole’s gobbler weighed 19.125 pounds, had spurs of 1.18 and 1.25 inches, and six beards with measuring 11.06 inches, 8.5 inches, 6.75 inches, 6.5 inches, 6.5 inches and 6.25 inches.
The total beard length topped 45.5 inches.
While many hunters might mount such a fine gobbler, Pole said that’s not an option — before realizing his gobbler may be a state record, the hunter decided on something else.
“I got to thinking about how good that turkey breast soaked in buttermilk chicken-fried would taste,” Pole said. “So I ate him.”
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