Georgia Girl Kills Record Class 5-Bearded Alabama Gobbler
This bird would be No. 2 all-time in NWTF's records of Alabama atypical gobblers taken by a female hunter.
Lauren McLendon, of Roopville, may call Heard County, Georgia home, but she certainly doesn’t mind crossing the state line into Chambers County, Alabama if that’s what it takes to go turkey hunting. She was in a ground blind with her dad Brandon on the morning of March 21 when she shot a five-bearded gobbler that is now the pending No. 2 atypical Alabama gobbler ever killed by a lady.
“I’ve killed a good many nice toms, just never one like that,” said Lauren.
Lauren, 18, runs heavy-construction equipment with her dad’s company, West Georgia Quality Services.
“The equipment is my thing. After high school, I’m going to keep working with daddy, and it’s going to be a full-time thing,” said Lauren.
Lauren puts hunting and fishing right up there with her passion for running dozers and other machinery.
“We drove over and got in before daylight and got in a blind watching a food plot. We did a little calling, some yelps, clucks and cackles about every 30 minutes,” said Lauren.
The woods were quiet. They hadn’t heard a gobble all morning, so they just stayed put in the blind and did some periodic calling.
“A lot of times if they’re gobbling and they are not coming to us, we’ll get out of the blind and move to them, but that wasn’t the situation here,” said Lauren.
It wasn’t until 11:50 when a bird finally let loose with a gobble, and it was nearly right on top of them.
“He was right outside the food plot when he did gobble,” said Lauren. “It was clearcut all around the food plot that had grown up a little bit, and we couldn’t see them, but he obviously was close.”
It turned out to be two gobblers, and they wasted no time walking into the plot.
“He was coming to that call,” said Lauren. “He thought there were hens there, which is why he came in gobbling and strutting I imagine. They didn’t have any hens with them.”
The five-bearded tom had no problem strutting right into gun range thanks to the coaxing from a slate call made by Gary Joffrion with Magnolia Game Calls.
“He was in shotgun range for a good while, but I was trying to let the second one come in so we could both get one,” said Lauren. “They started acting funny like they saw us. They quit strutting and started standing up straight and looking all around, so I decided to take him. Little did I know he had five beards.”
Lauren’s bird weighed 20-lbs., 4.64-ozs., had matching spurs of 1 1/8 inches and had five beards that measured 9 1/2, 6 1/2, 6 1/4, 5 5/8 and 3 3/8 inches. Lauren’s total score using NWTF’s scoring formulacomes to 105.25.
The National Wild Turkey Federation is the gate-keeper for turkey records. Lauren still needs to have her bird registered through the NWTF before it’s officially given a ranking status. She is planning to do that very soon.
With a score of 105.25, Lauren’s bird would be the new No. 2 Alabama atypical bird for female hunters. In addition, it would be tied for No. 32 of all-time for Eastern atypical birds killed by ladies.
Georgia’s largest atypical female harvested bird was killed in 2019 by Shanna Shuman. Her nine-bearded gobbler from Montgomery County scored an outstanding 146.95. It’s also the No. 10 bird of all-time atypicals reported from Georgia.
The NWTF measuring and registration process is relatively easy. Hunters can download a registration form at www.nwtf.org/hunt/records/register.
The hunter will be asked to answer some basic questions, including species of turkey (Eastern in Alabama), weight of the turkey in pounds and ounces, beard length to the nearest 1/16-inch, the length of both spurs to the nearest 1/16-inch, any information on oddities such as multiple beards or more than two spurs, type of call used and type of weapon used.
The measuring and weighing process must be done in the presence of an NWTF member.
The hunter will then be asked to sign an affidavit stating that all of the information on the form is correct and that the turkey was taken under fair-chase rules. The form must also be signed by the witness.
A $15 application fee is required with each entry.
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