When Keck and McCurdy settled in, Keck said the turkey answered the first call.
“He just ate it, but he was about 250 yards away,” Keck said. “I kept giving it to him, and he was gobbling up every time I called. Then he hung up about 150 yards away still in the woods. I started the challenge purring with my mouth call and my slate. He will tear them flat.
“He came to the edge of the pasture, showed off and gobbled up. I gave him some more and then hung up. He came. He strutted, stopped and swallowed; strut, stop and swallow. He was coming to fight. He came within 25 yards, and there was only a small gap in that fence. He arrived, brought up the periscope, and the rest is history.
Although Keck has hunted turkeys all over the world, he said Alabama was a special place for him.
“I killed my first spring gobblers in Alabama,” he said. “I won the Mobile World Championship Calling Contest. Much of the work that NWTF does was formulated right here in Alabama. This is the birthplace of turkey hunting.
“I remember reading a Charlie Elliott story in Outdoor living in 1969 about how Alabama had the longest turkey spring season. For me, Alabama is mecca, like going back to where it all began. So many states across the country have copied what Alabama has been doing for a very long time. For me, I have so many great memories, so many great people I’ve met over the years, the conservation work, the ability to hunt here. I want to become an honorary citizen of Alabama.
Alabama Conservation Advisory Council Chairman Joey Dobbs was the second runner-up with another 20-pound turkey, 20.34 to be exact. The beard measured 10 3/8 inches and the spurs both measured 1 ¼ inches for a total score of 66.09.
Dobbs said the early morning set-up was a failure, and he and his guide, Tim Wilsford of Pintlala, were about to give up. They had even unloaded their weapons when Dobbs was on full alert.
“I heard a ‘cot, cot, cot’ behind us,” Dobbs said. “We hunkered down. We didn’t have time to settle down. Around the corner, six birds, six gobblers. It was the biggest bird, leading the way all the time. Then a hen intercepted them and hung them up for about 30-40 minutes. Eventually they came around a tree where I got a good clean shot and caught it.
“Tim and his family were wonderful hosts. I’m so proud that we’re able to do this (Governor’s One-Shot Turkey Hunt). COVID has slowed us down for the past two years. To collect this and raise the money that we have raised this year for the Foundation, I am very happy. The level of participation was simply fabulous.
Governor Ivey was also pleased that the event went off without a hitch and raised valuable funds for the Alabama Conservation and Natural Resources Foundation, which funds scholarships at the University of Alabama and the Auburn University as well as many programs like Becoming an Outdoors-Woman, Youth of the Dove Hunts, Adult Mentored Hunting Program, Hunters Helping the Hungry, Go Fish Program, Gone Fishin’ Not Just Event Wishin’ Exceptional Anglers Event and more.
“When we kicked things off on Monday, I said Alabama was blessed with our great outdoors,” Governor Ivey said. “I hope you all got a good insight into this. Not only is Alabama a great place to visit, but it’s also a great place to live, work, and play. For those of you who are considering coming to Alabama or expanding existing businesses, I certainly hope you will make the choice to do so.We would like you to do business here in Alabama.
“I would like to thank the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) and the Department of Commerce for organizing this event. I would like to thank Chris Blankenship (ADCNR Commissioner), an/a I also appreciate our many sponsors. Without you, this wouldn’t be possible. Bev Leigh was also instrumental in bringing our auction and the event itself to fruition. I also want to thank Ed (Poolos, ADCNR Deputy Commissioner) and Billy (Pope, ADCNR Director of Communications and Marketing) for their hard work. »
Commissioner Blankenship said he wanted to thank several other people involved in the event.
“I wanted to make sure we recognize Bev Leigh, Craig Harris and the rest of the National Wild Turkey Federation volunteers who weighed and scored the birds and held a very successful silent and live auction,” the commissioner said. Blankenship. “They were great partners in this event. I appreciate the Alabama Wildlife Federation and Tim Gothard for the AWF Wild Game Cooking Teams who provided great food at the Fly-Down Social. We had 28 sponsors, and several of those sponsors made additional contributions as we had to postpone the 2020 event due to Covid.
“We had great participation from landowners. By not having the banquet on Tuesday evening, we were able to spread it out. The winning turkey came from a little further. We probably wouldn’t have been able to hunt this bird if we hadn’t changed the format. Also, at Tuesday night dinners, people were able to talk business and develop relationships that will help them do business here in Alabama. Using the outdoors to help businesses grow is extremely important to our economy. We like to go out in the woods or at the hunting camp in a relaxed atmosphere. Many deals are made on the golf course, but I think we have just as many opportunities to do so in the woods or on an outdoor fishing boat in Alabama.