100 Gobblers With A Bow!

The author killed gobbler number 100 last season—that’s 100 with a bow!

Tim Knight | March 1, 2024

Tim Knight with his 100th gobbler killed with his bow.

It was Thursday morning before opening day of the 2023 season. I stood in the pre-dawn darkness in anticipation of the first gobble of the season. I did not have to wait long as the horizon started to lighten and a barred owl awakened the woods followed by the first gobble of the season. After a few minutes, a total of three different gobblers were making their presence known. They were all roosted close to a major powerline that runs the length of the property. That was all I needed to hear as I said to myself, I will be back here set up well before daylight Saturday morning.

Fast forward to Saturday, opening morning, where I was set up just inside the treeline that gave me an excellent view of anything that might step into the powerline. I had my real mounted gobbler decoy, Ralph, set up in the powerline along with Henrietta, my real mounted hen at about 18 yards.

As daylight broke, it was a carbon copy of Thursday morning as a barred owl coaxed the first gobble of the morning. I let them gobble and could tell there were two gobblers roosted together over the creek drain less than 100 yards from my position. I patiently waited until fly-down time and made the first light clucks with my Pecker Wrecker Widow Maker diaphragm call. I was immediately cut off by one of the gobblers, followed instantly by the other. I did not make another sound until I knew they were on the ground.

Once I knew they were down from the tree, I did a fly-down cackle followed by a few more clucks. They gobbled hard and were already closing the gap headed toward my calling from across the powerline. It was not long till I saw that white head in the edge of the treeline followed by another. As soon as I knew they could see my decoys, I grabbed my Zebco 202 reel which had the fishing line attached to Ralph’s tail. I raised the full-mount decoy’s tail to full strut. They immediately caught the movement, and now it’s a foot race as they jockeyed for position racing to my setup.

When they got inside 30 yards, I eased my PSE bow back and waited, hoping for a shot opportunity. The front gobbler was running in full strut while the second bird was apparently the subordinate one as he only half strutted. Both were mature gobblers, so I was going to take the first and best shot opportunity available. The full strutter came around my side of the decoy, which put him at 15 yards slightly quartered to me, which is a great angle to shoot because you can take out a wing and a leg or take out the muscles that control them. I remember burying my green pin on his front wing butt and telling myself to “Aim for the Exit” as I squeezed off my shot.

We all have had people in our lives who have said things that motivate us, challenge us and sometimes make us wonder why they said it. I well remember practically begging my daddy to order me a set of taxidermy lessons from the back of an Outdoor Life magazine back in 1975. He told me in so my words, “I’m going to order you these lessons, but you will never be able to make a living stuffing animals.” I told him I would do my best to prove him wrong.

Sadly, he passed away in March of 1989. In 1990, I won the Best All Around Taxidermist in Georgia, and in 1993, I won the Best All Around Taxidermist in the nation at the National Taxidermist Convention and competition in Richmond, Virginia. I have received the Award of Excellence from the National Taxidermist Association. I have won too many blue ribbons to mention, many Best of Category and several Best of Show awards over the years in the Master’s Division, including a Best of Category master’s and Best of Show at the 2020 NWTF convention with a triple-bearded bow-killed gobbler. But the award that was most humbling was being inducted into the Georgia Taxidermist Hall of Fame.

Now, flash back to 1986, where I was attending an NWTF turkey banquet with quite a few old-school, die-hard turkey hunters. One in particular the late Mr. Tom Fisher, of Cochran. I remember like yesterday walking up to him and telling him that I was going to try and kill a gobbler with my bow and no blind.

He looked at me just as serious as he could be and said, “Son, you are wasting your time trying to kill a gobbler with a bow, especially without a blind.”

Now, most people would have let that discourage them… Not me, it only drove me to prove him wrong. I had taken several turkeys with a gun and had a great woodsman, Jerry Garnto, my wife’s uncle, teach me the ways of the wild turkey in the Laurens County river swamps. I killed my first turkey with a bow in 1987 after several frustrating misses. And since then, I perfected my craft and learned how to kill them through trial and error. I continued to take my state limit every year and some out of state. The numbers continued to climb, and I was getting requests on how I was being so successful with a bow and no blind, and could I teach them. I decided to write a book on the subject many years ago, and although the equipment used in the book has evolved, the basic method has stayed the same.

I remember when I reached 75 turkey bow-kills and started to realize that 100 might be possible in my lifetime. Never in a million years did I think this number was possible when I started. By now, most readers of my articles know the saying I live by, “Success comes before work only in the Dictionary.”

I have many to thank for my personal success. Just to name a few, John (Bubba) Dykes, who introduced me to archery in 1977, and Cliff (Bubba) Paulk and his Forestry class—both were my teachers at Bleckley County High School; the aforementioned Jerry Garnto; the late Tom Fisher for instilling in me the challenge of bowhunting the wild turkey. The late Royce Lawrence, Eddie Bozeman, David Drexel, Sam Klement, Vick White, Blake Shurling, Wayne Goocher, Sam Hattaway, Brian Callihan, Matt Adcock and a special thanks to Mr. Skippy Attaway ofAttaway Plantation and Ben Attaway of Cedar Creek Timber, both from Wrightsville. Butch Freeman PC, Craig Wilson of Mid State Tractor and Dr. David Kellam of Dublin. Mark Land and Tim Mangum, former employees of the Muzzy broadhead company. And this publication, GON, that has followed me and supported me through all my hunting adventures and allowed me to share them with you the readers.

I killed the vast majority of my gobblers with a Muzzy and fishhooks before I designed my own head. I also need to mention the call makers I have used, Terry Rohm, Ricky Joe Bishop, Preston Pitman, and most recently Kevin Farr. I’m sure there are others who have helped me reach this goal, and to each a heartfelt thank you.

Last season opened with me sitting on 99 gobblers without ever using a blind. I have nothing against blinds, I just prefer to be very mobile and be able to change my setup at a moment’s notice. This has helped me and cost me a few opportunities at gobblers.

I’ll have to admit I felt a little excitement and pressure as the gobbler strutted into bow range and my sight picture last opening morning. I remember thinking—don’t rush it, here is your chance to get number 100 as I squeezed the Tru Ball release. The Ignitor lighted nock was shining brightly as the 100 Grain Bipolar broadhead hit its mark.

The gobbler jumped straight up and did a backward flip as the arrow zipped through him. He crow hopped several feet from the point of impact and collapsed, while a whirlwind of emotions went through me.

The tears of joy were now flowing as years of hunting, scouting and practicing were all coming together in this moment.

We all have different goals we set in life and have those memorable moments from a lifetime of pursuing a passion or a dream. I got up and walked out to my trophy and gave thanks to the man above for this wonderful creature called the wild turkey. I took out my phone called my two sons and made a post on Facebook that the Quest for 100 was over, and as luck would have it, I killed number 101 the very next morning, filling my Georgia limit in a total of 26 hours.

Although I had a very short season, it will be one I will always remember. When all is said and done that’s all we have is our memories of friends made and trophies taken.

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