World Record Gobbler Highlights 2016 Georgia Turkey Records
Justin Lucas’s 10-bearded Candler County gobbler certified as the best atypical Eastern ever. New state records set for longest spur and bow-killed atypical.
Each spring, GON likes to inspire hunters who can’t wait for the upcoming turkey season—as if we need any additional teasing—by looking back at exceptional Georgia gobblers that have made the record books. Some fantastic birds were taken last year that re-wrote the Georgia records, but it was a 2014 southeast Georgia bird finally certified that highlights this year’s look at record-setting gobblers.
Justin Lucas, of Statesboro, killed a Candler County bird that set a new world record for an atypical Eastern gobbler and shattered the previous Georgia state record. An atypical gobbler is one with more than one beard—Justin’s gobbler had 10!
“I had been pursuing a group of birds for about two years on the tract of land with no luck prior to the 2014 season,” Justin said. “Due to unfortunate circumstances each prior season, I was never able to hunt these birds in the early part of the season, and they seemed to frequent this area more in the early part of turkey season. But, the 2014 season was finally going to be different, I was finally going to be able to hunt opening morning.
“I arrived early that Saturday morning and eased into the wooded area where I knew these birds should be close. As I was getting my Pretty Boy decoy set up, I heard the first gobble of the morning over across the creek bottom. I began to rush to get back to the tree I had chosen and get settled for the morning. I made a few soft tree calls on my slate and was cut off by another gobble from the same area as the first. As I sat in silence listening to the morning begin to awaken, the gobbles began to come more frequently.
“I did a fly down with my Houndstooth mouth call, only to be cut off by a gobbler now on the ground closer than the other gobbles before. I then purred a few times on my slate, and you could hear the leaves crunching in no time. The first gobbler was at the decoy before I could blink. As I was getting ready to shoot this bird, I again heard the leaves crunching. Two more gobblers were running to the decoy. I could tell that one of them was definitely the dominant bird, so I harvested him first. The first bird then flew off, but the third bird stood there long enough for me to also harvest him. So, I had now harvested two gobblers on opening morning—finally, after two years of hunting these birds!
“I jumped up and ran over to the first bird that I shot and couldn’t believe my eyes. This bird had not one, but 10 beards. I ran over to the other bird, and again I couldn’t believe my eyes. This bird also had multiple beards, four to be exact, but unfortunately it had suffered from beard rot and the beards were only 4 to 5 inches long. I couldn’t believe what had just happened, and what a once-in-a-lifetime hunt I had just had.”
Justin went through the process of getting his big gobbler certified by NWTF, and it is now recognized as the new world-record gobbler for the highest-scoring atypical (multi-bearded) Eastern ever killed. With a total score of 203.9375, it topped the previous world record, a Missouri gobbler, by more than four points. To give a clear picture of just how exceptional Justin’s 10-bearded gobbler was—it blew away the previous Georgia state record by more than 51 points.
“It was a hunt I will never forget as long as I live, and to this day it still feels surreal that I actually harvested a world record turkey,” Justin said.
Record Spur For Amber Roberts
On Amber Robert’s first-ever turkey hunt, she put her name in the record books with an Upson County gobbler that had a 1.875-inch spur, which ranks as a tie for No. 5 as the longest spur ever recorded in Georgia. Also, Amber is tied for No. 2 in Georgia and tied for No. 3 in the nation for the longest spur on an Eastern gobbler for a female hunter.
Roger Petty called the bird for Amber, who is his best friend’s daughter, during the Upson County hunt last April 9.
“It was her first time hunting for turkeys,” Roger said. “I have taken her into the deer woods over the years since she was a small child. She actually harvested her best deer to date this past deer season while hunting from one of my stands. She was eager to try her hand at turkeys.
“We started out in a familiar place where I have taken birds over the years. We got into the woods before daylight and tried our luck. Nothing was happening in this area. The birds that we did hear were several hundred yards away. We stayed patient and kept calling for about an hour or so. I finally told Amber that we need to leave and head over to another area where I got on some birds a couple of weeks before. We packed our gear and headed that way around 9 a.m. We got to our other place, and I told Amber to be really quiet since the birds are sometimes in the plot by this time of day. She did perfect and stayed behind me while walking in, and she kept her footing as quiet as a mouse. Luckily, there were no birds in sight, and we eased in and got settled. The area consisted of four food plots, three of which ran from the top ridge down toward the bottom, parallel to us, and another plot that runs along the ridge on the top, kind of perpendicular to the other plots. We were sitting off to the side of one of the plots in the bottom, which ran back up the hill to the top ridge. The plots are a mix of clover and wheat. I placed a couple of decoys out, which I normally do when I take newbies or kids out. They seem to take the attention off of my hunter in order to give them time to shift or get the gun ready without being detected. I made a few calls, and they fell on deaf ears. About 20 minutes into the hunt, I hit the call again, and a bird answered me about 200 yards away. We both looked at one another, and I said to Amber, ‘We might be in business.’
“I gave the bird a few minutes and called to him again. He hammered back and had closed the distance. I was steady trying to find the bird on top on the ridge, but he was still out of view. I gave him a few more minutes and called to him again. This time, the woods echoed with his thunderous gobble, and I knew he was on top, and that I should be able to see him soon. I told Amber to stay very still and to get her gun up an ready. ‘Just aim it toward the decoys,’ I said.
“I finally saw the bird, and he was in full strut. I whispered to Amber, ‘Do you see him?’ She replied, ‘Not yet.’
“I told her where the bird was and to keep still. I kept an eye on the bird and on Amber. All of a sudden, I start to see her gun barrel shake—I knew then that she could see the bird. It was a beautiful sight, seeing him up on the ridge looking for the hen that he had heard. I knew that if I could get him to cross the lanes in top and finally see the decoy spread, he might just break and come on down. I started giving him some light purring, and he slowly made his way over to our lane, still 125 yards or so away. He saw the dekes and went into strut. He ended up strutting all the way down the hill toward us, and I kept reminding Amber about being still. She did exactly what I asked. Once he got to the decoys, I knew that he would approach from the front and that would give Amber time to adjust if needed. While watching the bird and watching her, she slowly took the safety off while his fan was toward us. I told Amber that when he clears and goes around to the other side to take the shot. He did just that and stuck his head up… BOOM! I ran over like an Olympic sprinter and put my boot on his head. I looked back over my shoulder and Amber was already standing. I motioned her over, and we embraced each other with a giant hug and some tears. I was so happy for her and to be part of her first turkey kill. While waiting for the bird to expire, I looked down and one of his feet came out from below him. I was speechless to say the least—I thought for a second that what I saw was his toe. I looked again and told Amber to come closer. She thought that she did something wrong. I assured her that she just killed a trophy and possibly a record bird. He was sporting some of the biggest spurs that I have ever seen in my 30-plus years of turkey hunting and may never see again in my lifetime.”
“After admiring the spurs, I flipped him over to check out his beard, and to my amazement, two beards flipped out from his chest. Again, I was in shock. What a hunt it was to have her experience what all of us turkey hunters strive to happen—the gobbling, the strutting, the spitting and drumming—and to top it off with a magnificent, once-in-a-lifetime bird.”
Hunter Knight’s State Record Atypical With A Bow
Killing gobblers—and other critters—with a bow is a family affair for the Knights. Father Tim Knight is a Dublin taxidermist, GON Hunt Advisor and inventor of the Bi-Polar Broadhead. Tim’s name appears often in the record books, whether it’s for Pope & Young bucks, GON’s County-by-County buck records or the NWTF’s turkey records.
Tim has the No. 7 Georgia typical gobbler ever taken with a bow, and last year his son Hunter Knight put his name at the top of the Georgia atypical bow-records with a gobbler he killed in Johnson County.
Get Your Gobbler Scored
The measuring and registration process for a wild turkey is relatively easy. The hunter will be asked to answer some basic questions including species of turkey (Georgia birds are all Eastern), 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 unrelated witness. In the event of an exceptional bird weighing more than 24 pounds, the bird must be weighed on certified scales to the nearest ounce with an additional witness being present. A weight coupon from the scale must be presented with the registration form. Get lots of pictures with your gobbler, and please contact GON if you think you have a Georgia bird that will score well. Send photos and your hunt story to [email protected].
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