As has been chronicled in this space, thanks to a health hiccup, this has been a spring of vicarious turkey hunting for yours truly.
Like last weekend when J.J. Kent, the Pottsboro outfitter who has been out in the turkey woods a lot this season, sent me a text to share some good end of the season news.
“Took my dad out into the western part of North Texas,” said Kent, of Kent Outdoors (903) 271-5524). “Three came in and my dad got a good one. He shot it at 15 yards as the gobbler was looking over my Avian X jake decoy.”
How good was the big bird taken by Kent’s father, Mike, a Dallas resident, on the final weekend of the North Texas season?
Would you believe the best one of the year?
“Dad picked out an awesome double-bearded bird that had beards measuring 10.75 inches and seven inches,” said Kent. “He was a good sized gobbler with 1.25-inch long spurs on both sides, so he was a good, old mature bird.”
Since Kent has seen a number of good, old mature birds taken this season in North Texas, Grayson County and southern Oklahoma, I queried him as to how he would rate the 2014 spring season.
“It’s been a great season,” said Kent. “I’d say on a scale of one to 10, it’s been about an eight.”
As he usually does, Kent had some numbers to back up his claim.
“This season, our hunters took a total of 15 birds scattered around various parts of North Texas and southern Oklahoma,” said the pro-staffer for Avian X decoys, Zink Calls, and Mossy Oak Camouflage.
“That includes four hunts in Grayson County where we took a total of three birds. And keep in mind that overall, we had three hunters miss birds at under 15 yards. So all in all, it was a very good season.”
Kent says that in addition to his dad’s bird, the other longest beard of the season was another 10.25-inch set of gobbler whiskers while the best hooks were a pair of 1 3/8-inch long spurs.
“Next season looks promising already,” said Kent. “We saw a lot — a LOT — of jakes running around this year. We also had a good number of longbeards that have made it through the season.
“And with the recent rain, that should help the hatch for next year, so things are coming together.”
Kent is particularly high on what he sees happening with the Grayson County turkey population.
“I know that from where I sit, this year has been a better season than the previous two years were in Grayson County,” he said. “And I think there were more birds checked into the check stations too.
“It appears — to me, at least — that the turkey population is growing in Grayson County. We have seen larger flocks this year and we saw birds — including plenty of hens — in areas that we haven’t seen them in before.”
Kent said that surprisingly, the hunting was good pretty much all season long.
“Even last week, during the last week of the season, I’d say it was as good as it had been all year long.”
Which is why Kent and his dad ventured into western North Texas last weekend, despite temperatures climbing well into the 90s.
“Sometimes, even when you think the odds are stacked against you, it works out in the turkey woods,” he laughed. “That happened a lot this spring, in the heat, in the cold, and in the rain.
“You just never know until you get out of the easy chair and go.”
And next spring, Lord willing, yours truly is planning on doing exactly that.