Hunter Takes Trophy WMA Gobbler Without Firing A Shot

Brad Gill | March 27, 2014

Crazy things happen in the woods…

Richard Bryant and his son, Stephen, 17, of Cartersville, were listening for a gobbler to sound off on opening morning on Paulding Forest WMA. The two hunters heard a bird cluck and looked way up a tree and saw a turkey coming down.

“He was 50 feet up, way up,” said Richard. “I think he was wanting to do a normal fly down, but the bird just came straight down. It was like one wing was working, and one wasn’t. He was just helicoptering, spinning and flapping his wings.”

With 1 5/16-inch spurs, this is a trophy-class WMA gobbler.

When the turkey made it to the ground, it was only about 10 yards away but was down a hill and through some cover.

“At this time, I didn’t know if it was a hen or a gobbler,” said Richard.  “When he hit the ground, he stood up. Then, it laid down, flopped around and got up again. This went on for about five minutes. We were on top of a ridge and had to go around a little trail to get to him. My son got to him before I did, and he turned around and said, ‘Daddy, he’s a good one.’”

By the time Stephen put his hands on the bird, it was stone dead. As if the occurence wasn’t bizarre enough, the bird was a mature tom with trophy-class spurs.

“He had a 10 1/2-inch beard, 1 5/16-inch spurs, and we never pulled the trigger,” said Richard.

Richard said he compares the incident to sitting in a deer stand and having a 150-inch buck walk by your stand and fall over dead.

“What is the luck of being in the woods right where somehow, someway a fabulous turkey dies in front of you?” asks Richard. “We were walking out, and I told my son, ‘This is a day we will never forget, because this will never happen again.’”

Back at home, Richard cleaned and inspected the bird very closely. There were no broken bones, shotgun pellets or any other obvious injury to the bird. The only thing Richard can figure is that it was just the gobbler’s time to die.

Stephen Bryant, 17, of Cartersville, “got” this bird opening morning without firing a shot.

Richard Bryant, of Cartersville, with the Paulding Forest WMA tom that toppled from a tree.

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