Memories of last year’s turkey hunt propel Keenan Stultz, rural Hillsboro, out into the tree row this year. Even though the-14-year-old got what might be considered by some to be a record bird last year, when he hears the big tom’s gobbling in the fields nearby at dusk, he can hardly wait to try his hand at hunting one again this year.
The spring turkey season runs from April 11 to May 31, according to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. However, archery hunters, youth 16 years or younger, and those with disability permits got a jump-start, opening April 1 through 10.
For Stultz, it is a chance to make good memories with his dad, Harold Stultz, and a chance to spend time outdoors.
“I just love being out in the cold, fresh air in the morning,” Keenan Stultz said. “There is so much to see out there, and it is really fun because in turkey season, there is always something going on.”
Last year, Stultz got his bird the second time out in his stand. The first time out, he got so enthralled with watching two big toms battle in front of him, that he forgot to take a shot.
“There is nothing more incredible than feeling the ground shake when two big toms strut and thump the ground in front of you,” he said. “It just takes your breath away.”
On the morning Stultz shot his bird last year, he admitted to falling asleep several times before luck turned his way.
“It was so quiet and the grass was soft,” he said. “I was waiting for my dad who was setting up the decoys and I just fell asleep. When I woke up, two turkeys were fluttering in front of me, but I moved and they saw me and took off.”
Stultz said he then waited for what seemed like forever, trying not to move, when his dad motioned him from across a creek to crawl his way.
“I crawled down toward him and saw two turkeys coming right out. I wanted to shoot them so bad, but my dad kept motioning for me to wait,” Stultz said. “When they flew off I just knew that was the last I would see off them.”
However, the two turkeys came back around behind Stultz and his dad, who now joined forces on the same side of the creek.
“I now saw that my dad didn’t let me shoot earlier because I might have peppered him,” Stultz said. “I was glad I let them go the first time.”
Using turkey calls that consist of a small apparatus the hunter holds in his or her mouth, Stultz and his dad called the turkeys in closer.
“When they got within 50 yards, my dad said ‘Take a shot when you are ready.’ I was so nervous,” Stultz said. “I shot and the turkey went straight up in the air. I thought I didn’t hit him, but he came down and didn’t move.”
Stultz’s turkey turned out to be a record bird with a 9 ¾ inch beard, 1 ¼ inch spurs on his feet, and nearly 20 pounds, unofficially.
“My mom cooked him in the roaster all night and we ate turkey all the next day. It was Sunday,” Stultz said. “It was so good. I can’t wait to get another one this year.”
A spring turkey atlas showing public hunting lands and spring Walk-In Hunting Access program lands is available at KDWPT offices and online at http://www.kdwpt.state.ks.us/news.