A Mississippi outdoorsman who was sidelined from enjoying his springtime passion–turkey hunting—by a severe heart attack three years ago, was back in the woods this year with renewed enthusiasm.

And his season turned out to be one for the books. The record books, that is.

Jerrell Keele, a 67-year old hunter from Burnsville, Miss., shot a 17.28-pound, seven-bearded turkey late in March. Its multiple beards qualified it as the non-typical record for the state of Mississippi.


An ardent turkey hunter, Keele says he nearly died of a heart attack three years ago.

“That heart attack liked to killed me because I didn’t get to hunt turkeys that year,” he told outdoor writer Buster Wolfe of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. “But I believe the Lord will help a fellow who wants to help himself. So I kept trying.”

Armed with a Remington Super Mag 12-gauge pump shotgun—and fitted with a defibrillator and a pacemaker–Keele bagged his record bird early March 17.

“I let out a flydown cackle, and I heard a bird gobble on a ridge about 15 minutes to 7:00,” he said. “I did four or five more yelps and he jumped on that. So I put out the decoy. He saw that and had to come on.”

Keele’s tom had so many beards that the National Wild Turkey Federation registration form had to be altered to hold all the necessary information.

“The form only has room to write in (the measurements for) six beards for each turkey,” said Keele, whose turkey scored a total of 151.155 points non-typical.