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Saturday, December 2, 2023
HomeLocal & StateOne Big Bird!

One Big Bird!

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Folks, I sure am tickled to share with you a story about a recent hunt, some new friends and a big old trophy tom. See, I was contacted a while back by a gentleman from Kentucky, Mister Mark Lilly, inquiring about a guided turkey hunt for his son. Well, we settled on a two-day hunt beginning this past Sunday, March 27.. It’s the second weekend of turkey season, the youth hunt having been booked already for other youths.

I met up with Mark and his fourteen year old son, Hunter, very early last Sunday morning and took them over to a small farm, just east of Brooksville. I was quite certain that I’d be able to show them some wild turkeys, but this hunt, though only lasting a couple of hours, produced the young man, a trophy Osceola gobbler the likes of which very few other hunters can brag on. It was the heaviest Osceola tom I’d ever lifted and is an absolute candidate for the record books; which are maintained by the National Wild Turkey Federation.

This turkey had a great set of spurs and a long, thick beard, but that’s not what put him over the top; This bird was far heavier than you would expect and well, the first and unofficial weight was a whopping twenty-four pounds! After a bit of internet searching, Hunter found a list of records claiming that the heaviest weighing Osceola was recorded at twenty-three and a half pounds.

Imagine the excitement that this young man may have just harvested the new state record for the heaviest Osceola! Well, that sent Mark and Hunter on a journey to track down as much about the recordkeeping practices, Florida Wildlife Commission’s turkey biologists and a set of certified scales. This isn’t an easy process, because of the way records are registered and kept nowadays, as well as the time it takes to submit your claim, which then has to be investigated fully, prior to posting it.
I really wanted to write to you all and tell you that a new state record, had been taken by a young man being guided by yours truly. But alas, the wheels of acknowledgement sometimes aren’t spinning too quickly, therefore I will just have to update you as soon as I receive the final report.

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As far as my own success as a guide, I’m proud to admit that out of seven hunters thus far during the season, they have enjoyed eleven opportunities to harvest their own Osceola, but with only five capitalizing on that chance.

As always, if you have any comments, questions or just want to share your success from the woods, give me a shout out at [email protected]. God bless and good hunting!

Toby Benoit
Toby Benoit
Toby Benoit is a best selling novelist and professional outdoorsman with thirty-five years of experience guiding and outfitting for big game all across America. Toby is a renowned archer and turkey hunting expert who manufactures custom game calls and is a regular judge at NWTF sanctioned turkey calling events across the Southeast.
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