A quick trip off the back porch turned into an epic win for Travis Atkins of Summerfield, N.C.
On April 10, Atkins bagged a five-bearded gobbler that weighed 22 pounds and boasted 1½-inch spurs. Preliminary scoring according to the National Wild Turkey Federation’s scoring system puts the bird at 135 points, the 13th-largest multi-bearded bird ever taken in North Carolina.
An early morning doctor’s appointment limited Atkins to a quick trip behind his home that morning, but he didn’t have to go very far, because he had one gobbling off his back porch.
“I heard five or six birds gobble that morning pretty far off, but none of them were close enough for me to really go after in the short amount of time I had,” Atkins said. “I came back to the house at 7:30, sat, and listened on by back porch to see if I could hear anything.”
Moments later, Atkins heard one gobble right behind his house, and he perked up. He knew the terrain and knew exactly where that bird was.
“There is a pond in my back yard and a big ridge to the right of where he had been roosting. He was right behind that pond dam,” said Atkins, who grabbed his 12-gauge Mossberg 835, snuck down the hill, and peeked over the hill.
“I popped over the pond dam, and there he stood, 20 yards away, in full strut with two hens and a jake,” said Atkins, who centered the red-dot scope on the turkey’s head and pulled the trigger.
Not exactly a textbook kill, but a fun way to take a bird on the third day of the season.
“It was short and sweet,” he said.
As Atkins reached down to grab the bird after it flopped around on the ground for several minutes, he noticed it wasn’t an ordinary gobbler.
“I reached down to grab his leg and realized what he was. I was then speechless, and I initially thought I had the new state record,” said Atkins, who measured the gobbler’s five beards at 10 3/8, 10, 5 6/8, 8 and 8 5/8 inches, to go with the 1 1/2-inch spurs and 22-pound weight.
After some investigation, Atkins found that Joseph Fuller’s eight-bearded gobbler from Edgecombe County was the biggest multi-beard bird on record, at 195.5 inches. But the bird should rank 13th in North Carolina history based on the NWTF’s database.