Three beards make trophy gobbler for female hunter
Breann Young with her trophy tom and her lucky shotgun
Young, a 19-year-old student at Craven Community College, started turkey hunting at the beginning of the 2011 season with her husband Johnny, a wildlife enforcement officer based in Pamlico County.
On the afternoon of April 16, she killed a huge gobbler – 22 pounds with three beards – that ranks second all-time among North Carolina turkeys taken by female hunters.
Young killed the bird around 1 p.m., shortly after she and her husband stumbled across a handful of hens while walking back their truck after she had missed a shot at a bird.
“We were headed to the truck and saw a white hen cross the road, then three more with her,” Johnny Young said. “We circled around to a power line and could see some birds out there strutting. There were seven hens, four longbeards and a jake. We set up, called and an old bird came right to us, and she smacked him.”
Breann Young’s gobbler weighed 22 pounds, had a ¾-inch spurs, but more important, had beards measuring 11-3/4 inches, 5-3/4 inches and 5-5/8 inches. The bird’s unofficial score – using the National Wild Turkey Federation’s scoring system – is 83-1/8. When confirmed, it will trail only an Edgecombe County gobbler taken in 2009 by Tammy Daniels, a bird that had seven beards and scored 123.435.
“I was excited,” Breann Young said. “It was the first time I’d seen a turkey when I was hunting. I’ve been hunting with Johnny since the season started, and this was the first time I’ve seen a bird.
“I wasn’t shaking too much – not as much as during deer season,” she said. “There were two more (gobblers) with him. Johnny told me to shoot the first one. Neither of use knew he had those beards until afterwards. I was looking at the birds, and Johnny got down and said, ‘Oh my God, he’s got three beards.’”
The Youngs had been living in Merritt in Pamlico County for only a month before Breann took her big gobbler. Before that, the two Davidson County natives had been in Sampson County for eight months on Johnny Young’s first assignment with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
Breann had opted out of hunting with her husband that. It was a mistake, sort of, because Johnny killed a 22-pound gobbler that morning before 7 a.m.
“I went every other time except that morning,” Breann Young said. “I was frustrated because we hadn’t seen anything and had gone through swamps and ditches. I said, ‘I’m not gonna go.’ Then, Johnny called me at 7 a.m. and said, ‘Get your clothes on, I’m coming back to get you. I’ve killed one and seen three more.”
When the Youngs set up on the power line, Johnny Young said the two biggest birds began to strut, then gobble. Three of the longbeards headed across the 100-yard wide power-line cut, and when they got to 30 yards, Breann cut down on him with her 12-gauge Benelli with a load of Nitro 4-5-7s.
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