UFC Fighter Knocks Out Gobbler On Camera
Cody Durden’s started out his turkey hunting career with a gobbler that had 1 3/4-inch spurs!
Mike Bolton | May 12, 2023
As one of the most popular fighters in the UFC—the major leagues of mixed martial arts competitions —Cody Durden is no stranger to rushes of adrenaline and heart-pumping action. The Newton County native says he never imagined he would experience the same reactions to killing his first turkey.
His first gobbler wasn’t just any turkey, mind you. While yet to be officially scored and sent to the NWTF, the bird has one 12 1/8-inch beard, one 9 1/4-inch beard, one 1 3/4-inch spur and one 1 11/16-inch spur. The bird has yet to be weighed.
To add to his excitement, the entire hunt, which lasted between 45 minutes to an hour, was filmed and will be shown on Jay Maxwell’s YouTube podcast on 46Ten Productions. Jay is a longtime GON subscriber and has been a finalist in GON’s Truck-Buck competition.
Cody and Jay had struck up an online friendship several years ago and on occasion the two would discuss deer hunting. When the topic of turkey hunting came up, Cody explained that he had made attempts to turkey hunt in the past but admitted he wasn’t very good at it. In fact, he had called in three birds with a slate call in the past, but had shot at, and missed, all three. Jay convinced him he needed someone to show him the ropes.
Cody’s UFC career limits his hunting time. With a record of 15-4-1, his career has skyrocketed of late. His win on April 29 by unanimous decision against Charles Johnson during UFC Fight Night 2023 was his third consecutive victory. It resulted in Cody signing an additional four-fight contract with UFC.
“I talked with Jay about him possibly taking me turkey hunting after my last fight was over in April,” Cody said. “He said he would see if he could find us a place to go. I casually mentioned that I had some property in Gwinnett County, but I had never seen a turkey on it.”
A few days later, fate intervened.
“I got a picture on my cell phone from my property, and I thought it might be a turkey. It was a long ways off, so it was hard to tell. I sent the picture to Jay, and he said it was definitely a turkey, and it was a gobbler.”
The pair decided they’d go after the gobbler, even though they knew nothing about its size. Cody asked if he could bring fellow MMA fighter, Michael Fortner, also a Georgia native and his best friend. Jay said sure.
“We got to the property about cracking light,” Jay said. “We walked in hugging one side of the road so any turkeys wouldn’t see us. A crow came by and cawed, and the turkey gobbled back. I called and the turkey gobbled back at me.
“I set up a decoy about 25 yards into a field next to the woods and set up six cameras. I wanted Cody to kill the bird in the field so I could get it on camera.
“I started calling and the bird flew down. Actually, I don’t think he really flew down. I think he dropped out of the tree straight to the ground. He was in the woods gobbling. Instead of coming to us, he wanted us to come to him. He was down in the woods over a little flat spot. He was going back and forth about 75 yards into the woods. This bird was really hard-headed.”
The game of chess between Jay and the gobbler was nerve-wracking. Cody could only sit and watch and listen.
All I could do was watch Jay work,” Cody said. “It was amazing. It was like he was a bird.
“The turkey just wouldn’t come to us.”
After it became evident the bird was staying put in the woods, Jay decided to change strategy. He explained to the two that he wanted to sneak in and place the decoy in a spot where the gobbler could see it. Once the bird saw it, he’d remove it and rush back and put it back in the field.
“I told Jay that you are the quarterback here, I’m just along for the ride,” Cody said.
The plan was a last-ditch effort to lure the gobbler into the field. Otherwise, killing the bird on camera would be impossible.
“I snuck into the woods and peered over the flat top into the bottom,” Jay said. “I could see him down the hill strutting. I put the decoy where he could see it on the flat top and he saw it. He really got fired up then. I then removed it when he wasn’t looking. I then got back to the field, set the decoy and told Cody to get ready.”
Cody said his heart was pounding.
“It was the same way I felt going into my first fight,” he said. “I was just telling myself to calm down and don’t jerk.”
The gobbler walked into the field and approached the decoy. Jay had provided Cody with a .20-gauge shotgun with a red dot scope. Cody put the red dot on the bird’s head as instructed. He shot and the bird went down.
Jay ran over and tackled the bird and was stunned at what he was looking at.
“I’ve probably had my hands on 400 turkeys in my lifetime, and I had never seen one like this,” he said. “I told Cody that he didn’t realize what he had done. I had to put it in deer terms for him. I told him it was like he had killed a 200-inch buck for his first deer.
“He’s definitely spoiled now.”
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