Big Bad Toms

South Dakota-May 08 (Hickoff) I’ve been fortunate to kill some big gobblers over the years in states like Missouri, Iowa, Kentucky, Texas, and elsewhere, birds that weighed in the 22- to 23-pound range. Twenty-pounders aren’t all that uncommon if you hunt hard in a bunch of states as many of us do. Actually, they’re squirts compared to the current Top 3 Eastern (“Typical”) birds registered with the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Kyle Nook’s tops the list at a weight of 35.8125 lbs., a gobbler taken in Guthrie, Iowa back on April 28, 2001. A box call brought the bird to the gun.

Scott Cernohous is next in line. His St. Croix, Wisconsin longbeard creaked the scales at 34.5000 lbs. He got that one by the feet on April 10, 2002. The medicine? Again, a box call.

Allen Vanderpool’s 34.2500 lb. Whitley, Kentucky gobbler ranks third on the list. His date of kill? April 13, 1998. You guessed it. This longbeard was also lured in with a box.

My assessment? Use a box call and hunt in April! Kidding aside, I killed this 22-lb. Merriam's in the South Dakota Badlands this past spring. (Heaviest Merriam's ever? George Connors's 31.5600 lb. Stevens, Washington bird taken on April 29, 2006. Yes, he also used a box call, and a diaphragm too.)

What’s your heaviest gobbler ever, Strut Zoners? What call did you use to pull it into range, assuming you used one? Did you do it in April?—Steve Hickoff