Revis Long of Lake Waccamaw had watched his one-of-a-kind trophy for many months before he finally took her down on the third day of North Carolina's spring turkey season with his 12-gauge Franchi shotgun.
Long's trophy gal sported a 9.25-inch beard, weighed 9.59 pounds, and had an overall score of 28.09 by using the National Wild Turkey Federation's score calculator. The NWTF maintains a records database for gobblers and bearded hens, and while the overwhelming majority of their records are male gobblers, 229 bearded hens are listed. Officially, the largest bearded hen ever recorded in North Carolina was taken in Rutherford County on April 21, 1998, that weighed 9.43 pounds, had an 8.75-inch beard and a total score of 27.18.
Under the supervision of wildlife officer Keith Rogers of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, Long scored the bird and submitted necessary documentation to the NWTF for processing.
Long had seen his bearded hen last fall during deer season, collaborating with a few other turkeys in a large agricultural field in Columbus County.
"I was about 90-percent sure it was a bearded hen, and she was easy to distinguish (from) the other bearded turkeys she hopped around everywhere she went. She had a broken leg," he said.
For months afterwards, Long monitoring the daily routes and travel patterns of this turkey, and as the season grew near, Long nailed down her roosting site and several heavily-traveled routes and decided on an unorthodox tactic more applicable for targeting a trophy buck.
"No calls or decoys this time, just strictly still hunting," Long said. "I didn't want to draw any attention to my location.
"She had several different routes to head back to roost from the field, and if I would leave them undisturbed, without a bunch of calling and decoys, hopefully she would continue to use the same routes."
On April 13, opening day of the month-long season, Long nestled along a field edge, hoping to see her shortly after sunrise, but instead, he had two jakes, three gobblers and several other hens fly down close by and turned down chances to take two of the gobblers that were prancing around in full strut, well within range.
Later that day, he glasses his bearded lady feeding on the other side of the field. He came two days later and didn't see her at all, but he was back the next day; he spotted her 600 yards away on the other side of the field.
"If it wasn't for here limp, I wouldn't be able to tell that it was her."
As the evening approached, the hen made her way towards Long's position, headed for her roost. She finally came within shotgun range, and he put her down with a single shot.
"I put a lot of time into it scouting, but it finally paid off," he said.