Turkey Hunting photo

The moment 11-year old hunter Kooper Bay pulled the trigger during the opening morning of Missouri’s youth turkey season, he knew he harvested a special bird; it was his first. But on closer inspection, he realized the tom was special for another reason—it had 10 measurable beards.

A story from the Baxter Bulletin says Kooper’s turkey scored 179.25, making it the third highest scoring gobbler taken in the Show Me State, and the ninth highest-scoring tom in the country according to the National Wild Turkey Foundation’s records (here’s how NWTF scores a turkey).

Kooper’s father, Rick Bay, said the two set out before sunrise with Kooper’s uncle, Kevin Sawyer, and were able to locate several birds in a roost. Unfortunately, once the birds flew down, they made their way in the direction of another hunter, so the trio relocated and found two other unsuspecting gobblers.

“We got the decoys out and I cleared a spot for Kooper to sit. After making a call, the toms came running. After sitting there for about two or three minutes, they came around the corner, and when they saw our decoys, they went back into the woods. But after more calling, the gobblers started moving towards us. I told Kooper to take the second bird, because a lot of the time the larger bird is behind the first bird. At about 30 yards out, Kooper fired his 20-gauge shotgun and dropped the big bird with a well-placed shot,” Rick Bay said.

The bird weighed 22 pounds, 8 ounces, and had one-inch spurs, but without question, it’s the number and size of the beards, which were as small as 4 15/16 inches and as big as 10 ¼ inches and collectively measure 68.0625 inches, that make Kooper’s bird unique.

In addition to knowing his name would enter the record books, Kooper submitted his bird in a youth turkey-hunting contest sponsored by a local archery and gun retailer, where he won first place out of 33 entries and was awarded a new shotgun.

Kooper says he’s now hooked on hunting. He harvested a deer last fall and is looking forward to chasing turkeys again before the season is over and traveling to South Dakota for a pheasant hunt later this year.