On April 22, 1999, hunter James E. Lewis of Kentucky shot the highest-ranking Eastern typical gobbler in this category, with spurs that taped out at 2.2500″ and 2.1250″.
According to the National Wild Turkey Federation, Lewis’s bird, taken in Franklin, KY with a modern firearm, also ranks highest for all-time total score: 104.8125. The beard went 13.7500″ (No. 35 in the record book), and it weighed 33.5625 lbs. (no typo, it’s No. 5 on the all-time list!). Lewis used both a slate and a mouth diaphragm to lure the gobbler in.
As for the Osceola subspecies, Bear Kempfer—hunting in Osceola, Florida no less—dropped a gobbler with one spur that went 2.0625″ (the all-time longest for a Florida turkey), while the other taped in at 1.8125″. A mouth diaphragm did that bird in on April 21, 1991.
Want some irony Strut Zoners? The Osceola subspecies spur record was then tied on April 6, 2001—a decade later and in the same town of Osceola, FL—by hunter Bobby Price, who also used a mouth diaphragm.
Want a three-way tie? The No. 1 Rio Grande gobbler had a record 2.0000″ spur (the other went 1.8750″), and was shot by Michael Dowell on April 6, 1996. Dowell used a box call on this Texas tom. Jack Kerr, also using a box call, had done it first on April 18, 1987. Ben Duncan, running a slate and a mouth diaphragm, has done it most recently on April 14, 2002.
On April 1, 1988 while using a box call, Richard G. Brooks took a typical Merriam’s with two good spurs; the record sticker went 2.2500″ and the other measured 1.7500″. He was hunting in Meade, South Dakota at the time. For those of you who chase Western turkeys, you know that these spurs are amazing for this particular subspecies. Many run much shorter, even on longbeards.
April seems to be the month to drop big spurs. Do you Strut Zoners know of anyone who has topped these spur lengths using a modern firearm, but decided not to register their gobbler with the NWTF records?—Steve Hickoff