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March 17: John O'Dell & Dave Reisner

Dave and I were fortunate to kick off Longbeard Madness 18 in South Florida with our great friend Scott Crippen.  Scott and I met over a decade ago and we hit it off right away.  We have hunted all over North America together but I have to admit that there is something special about hunting with him on his ranch in South Florida.  It is truly a hunt that Dave and I look forward to ever year!
 
This year we were down for the opener in his zone and the weather forecast was perfect calling for partly sunny skies with lows in the 60’s and highs in the low 80’s.  What we did not know is that although Mother Nature was doing her part the turkey hunting would still be as tough as it has ever been.  The gobblers were all henned up and looked to be in the breeding phase.  I have been turkey hunting now for 30 years and I don’t care what subspecies of wild turkey you are hunting, if the hens are running to the toms, it is tough sledding.  Combine that with the wide open improved cattle pastures we were hunting and you have the recipe for disaster especially on a short hunt.
 
Years of experience told us that if we were going to be successful we would have to either figure out where the turkeys might enter or exit the fields or hunt them on heavily used trails/roads and then just sit and wait.  So that is exactly what we did.  Fortunately for us Scott knows his ranch extremely well and his knowledge of the ranch helped us to both take great Osceola longbeards.
 
I was fortunate to finish my bow slam a couple of seasons ago on Scotts ranch with my PSE and so Dave was up to bat first as he still needs his Osceola for his archery slam.  The morning started out incredible with lots of gobbling on the roost but no turkeys came to our blind so we decided to get mobile.  That meant now I was the hunter as I would be shooting Dave’s TC 12 gauge turkey gun.  After glassing for a while with our Nikon binoculars we finally observed several toms in a wide open field.  Scott felt like they were headed toward a strut zone on the edge of the field, where if we could get ahead of them, they would be in effective shotgun range of my TC.  We quickly made a move and got set up.  It could not have worked out any better.  Just as we got into position, we could see the gobblers working our way.  Dave captured some awesome video of one the gobblers courting a hen.  Finally it was the moment of truth and I told Dave I was taking the strutter and he said go ahead anytime.  Bang!  Dave immediately said you missed and I said no I didn’t look he is feet up!  Well we quickly realized Dave was on the wrong turkey.  Scott and I gave Dave a hard time explaining that the strutter is the gobbler that is all puffed up and strutting!  It is tough to be too disappointed after harvesting a gorgeous Osceola gobber, but after my dose of Longbeard Sadness Dave was up to bat.
 
To make a long story short Dave and I hunted hard and we were rewarded for that effort on the second afternoon of our hunt.  We were in a blind on the edge of a ranch road with tons of turkey sign.  It was somewhat of a land bridge in that because of all the rain prior to our arrival there was standing water on both sides of the road.  This created a turkey highway of sorts and we knew if we were patient good things would happen.  Dave brought his PSE and his TC just in case and we climbed in the blind at 3:00PM.   We were expecting to intercept the turkeys on their way back to the roost sometime that afternoon.  The temps in the blind felt like they were way over 100 degrees.  Now I know why they call it the Sunshine State and I know why we call our turkey series Longbeard Madness!  So as we were slow cooking in the South Florida sun I looked up with my Nikons and saw a longbeard all alone on the road.  Dave started calling and he came in on a string.  The only problem was that he was in the ditch and on the wrong side of the blind we he finally popped into shooting range.  We frantically opened a side window in the blind.  Dave called, I filmed, the turkey gobbled, and then Dave shot him in the face with his trusty TC!  What a hunt!
 
A big thank you goes out to  Scott and we are already looking forward to next spring!!
 
Good Hunting!
John and Dave