Thanksgiving Turkey Special

Tommy Sancic, 9, harvested his first turkey in Cadiz, Ohio, with his grandfather.Field & Stream Online Editors
Adam Cardone from Queens, New York, with his first gobbler.Field & Stream Online Editors
Bart DuBois Jr. and a big bird: a 9 1/2-inch beard and 7/8-inch spurs.Field & Stream Online Editors
The happy kid in the picture is my son John, who is 12. The bird is his first turkey, a sharp-spurred eastern gobbler he killed on April 8 during Iowa's three-day youth season.
It was already starting to get light (my fault) on Saturday morning as we snuck into a small woodlot where we heard a bird gobbling. We sat side by side with our backs to a soft maple.
The turkey gobbled half a dozen times from the limb, then flew down and went silent. I called. Nothing. A few minutes later I called again. No answer. Then John whispered calmly, "I see him." I turned to look, expecting to see a gobbler walking or strutting off in the woods somewhere. Instead, the first turkey John ever laid eyes on was 50 yards away and closing at a run, beard swaying, long legs carrying it toward us as fast as a turkey can go. There was no time to give instructions other than "take the safety off." The turkey crossed in front of us at 25 yards. I yelped. The bird skidded to a stop and put his head up. I said "Shoot him." There was a boom and John's shout of triumph. We had been sitting for all of 15 minutes.
I have not seen a turkey run that hard to the gun since my own first bird 20 years ago. That turkey, like John's, hopped off the branch, clamped its beak shut and sprinted to me. It only took a few minutes for the bird to run from on the roost to in range, but in that time, my springs changed forever.
John insisted we have turkey for Easter dinner. We're drying the fan and he wants the spurs strung so he can wear them around his neck. Early indications are he's hooked for life. He'll have many, many years to learn that turkeys hardly ever come running when called. --Philip Bourjailly, Shotguns Columnist, 2006
Field & Stream Online Editors
Nicholas Oddo downed this 20-pound bird while hunting in Colorado. The gobbler had a 7-inch beard and 1-inch spurs.Field & Stream Online Editors
Jamie's Landau with her first turkey, a nice jake.Field & Stream Online Editors
Jim Malik from Rapid City, S.D. got this nice gobbler in the fall of 2006.Field & Stream Online Editors
Josh Lewis, 11, with his first tom. He took it on the opening day of Idaho's youth hunt.Field & Stream Online Editors
Jamie Green shot this 20-pound tom in April in South Carolina.Field & Stream Online Editors
Jason Short, 11, of Springfield, Missouri, with his first wild turkey. The bird weighed 22 pounds and had a 10 1/2-inch beard.Field & Stream Online Editors
Matthew Gadbois with a nice tom, which he shot with his bow.Field & Stream Online Editors
Wayne Lennington downed these two Merriam's toms in Nebraska.Field & Stream Online Editors
Scotty Sanders poses with his 4-bearded tom; the beards measured 10 1/4-, 8-, 5 1/2-, and 4 1/4-inches, and the gobbler weighed 20 pounds with 1 1/4-inch spurs.Field & Stream Online Editors
This is a pair of long beards that Mike and Chad Donovan shot on opening day of New York's youth hunt.Field & Stream Online Editors
Sherri Pestun, shown beside her 3-year-old son Dilon, shot this turkey in miserable weather. "But with warm clothes and some hot chocolate things worked out," says her husband Don.Field & Stream Online Editors
Thought I would send you a photo of last Saturday's successful turkey hunt. We were hunting in Central Oregon with my buddy Eric Gilson, the hunter on the right of photo, and myself Matt Crystal.Field & Stream Online Editors
Eric Gilmore shot this turkey on opening day. It had a 9 1/2-inch beard, 1 1/4-inch spurs, and weighed 22 pounds.Field & Stream Online Editors
With his great grandfather's Winchester Model 12 in his hands, 8-year-old Dustin Hines passed up 18 turkeys one morning. "I want to wait for the right shot," he whispered to his dad. His patience was rewarded by this 22-pound bird with a 101⁄4-inch beard.Field & Stream Online Editors
Brian Williams shot this gobbler with his 5-year-old son, Hunter, watching. The turkey was about 23 pounds with a 9 1/2-inch beard and 1-inch spurs.Field & Stream Online Editors
Brue Norton harvested this new California record Merriam's gobbler in the Monterey, Calif. area. The bird weighed almost 22-pounds, had an 11-inch beard, a 5-inch beard, and 1-1/2-inch spurs.Field & Stream Online Editors
Katlyn Storms with this tom, her first turkey. The gobbler weighed 21 pounds, and had an 8-inch beard and 1-inch spurs.Field & Stream Online Editors
One is not a lonely number for Spencer Kommes, who shot his first turkey on the first day of the season within the first hour of hunting. Luckily, the gobbler had a 9-inch beard, not a 1-incher.Field & Stream Online Editors
Tanya Litz took her first Eastern gobbler on opening day outside of Sparta, Tenn.Field & Stream Online Editors
Andy Eicher with his first turkey. The eastern Iowa bird weighed over 23 pounds, had a 10 1/2-inch beard and 1 1/4-inch spurs.Field & Stream Online Editors
After listening to gobbles all morning, James Painter had to call in the hen to get the tom to follow.Field & Stream Online Editors
Donnie Dunavant of Stephenville, Texas, with a Crockett County Rio Grande gobbler that fell victim to a hen and jake decoy setup, a 3-inch Federal Heavy Shok turkey load, and a Mossberg 835.Field & Stream Online Editors
J.D. Fosburgh took this bird in the second week of the season.Field & Stream Online Editors
Dan Ray (right) and his father, Dr. W. J. Ray, Jr. shot three gobblers while hunting in Sonora, Texas.Field & Stream Online Editors
Troy White downed this southeast Kansas gobbler that his brother called in for him.Field & Stream Online Editors
It took Michael Gangi five years to bag his first spring turkey. The bird weighed 22 pounds with 1-inch spurs and a 10-inch beard.Field & Stream Online Editors
Patrick Engelken shot this turkey on opening weekend of youth season in Kansas.Field & Stream Online Editors
Mike Russell shot his first gobbler, this 18-pounder, in Burke County, Ga.Field & Stream Online Editors
Brandon Fetterhoff, 12, killed his first spring gobbler with the help of his father, Rob.Field & Stream Online Editors
Kevin Fresh with his first gobbler that he shot while hunting in Kansas.Field & Stream Online Editors
Henry Conner from Cecilia, Kentucky, poses with his spring gobbler.Field & Stream Online Editors
Clark Moore killed this gobbler in Mississippi. The bird had two beards and 1 1/8-inch spurs.Field & Stream Online Editors
Fourteen-year-old Kristine Walkingstick with her first jake in northern Missouri.Field & Stream Online Editors
Eight-year-old Daniel Neuburger, of Katonah, NY, shot this 22-pounder while hunting with grandpa outside Shawnee, Kansas. It was a special youth weekend, and Daniel's first hunt.Field & Stream Online Editors
James Smith, 7, and a whopping 23-pound bird with a 10-inch beard and 1-inch spurs. He shot it in 2006, during North Carolina's first "youth only" hunt.Field & Stream Online Editors
Maurice "Reece" Carter shot this 23-pound gobbler on private land near Whitestone, Virginia from 17 yards away with his bow, a Hoyt MT sport that he borrowed from a friend. It was his first bow kill.Field & Stream Online Editors
Jean Rapson with a big gobbler.Field & Stream Online Editors
Robert Sandlin harvested this Osceola gobbler in Ocala, Fla. The bird had an 11-inch bear, 1-inch spurs, and weighed 20 pounds.Field & Stream Online Editors
Zach Woiak with a 3-bearded bird, his first gobbler.Field & Stream Online Editors
Colton Arnstein shot his first turkey, this 26-pound gobbler, during the youth hunt in Indiana.Field & Stream Online Editors
Stacie Hodgdon downed two big gobblers this spring. Her second one, pictured, had an 11-inch beard and 1-inch spurs.Field & Stream Online Editors
Mike Meacham, 11, harvested his first turkey this spring on the opening day of the youth hunt in Pennsylvania.Field & Stream Online Editors
Sean Padden shot his first tom this past season in Vermont.Field & Stream Online Editors
Brad Hanselman downed this gobbler west of McAlester, Okla. The tom weighed 21 pounds, had a 5-inch beard, and 1-inch spurs.Field & Stream Online Editors
Ronnie Nelms bagged this rare eastern wild turkey in Western Kentucky.Field & Stream Online Editors