LAST UPDATED: May 8th, 2015
Wow, this is a turkey to be proud of… A new world record! Congratulations Todd Pringnitz. I was just surfing the web and found his site and story about his new world record turkey. Here it is:
For many turkey hunters, the thought of a world record animal must occupy their brains much like the elusive giant whitetail bucks that I have been dreaming about my whole life. In all the thoughts that have entered my brain, shooting a world record turkey was the farthest thing from my mind when my good buddy Dan Johnson and I headed to our Bale Blind on the afternoon of April 13th.
I’ve turkey hunted the last few years without any-luck. My only previous experience having any sort of encounter with a tom turkey would be in my back yard back in my home state of Michigan. I somehow found a way to miss a tom turkey at about 8 feet. Needless to say, I didn’t exactly have a huge goal going into this turkey season. In-fact, I would have been pumped to kill any tom turkey with my bow! If it happened on video that would just have been an added bonus. I mean we’re whitetail video producers right?
Thankfully, the persistence of my good friend Dallas Ft. Worth to film my first few hunts of the season would end up being one of the best things to ever happen in my life. Our hunt started earlier in the year when while shed hunting I happened to find my long-lost decoy laying under a bunch of brush out in my CRP field. I remembered the location, and figured I’d grab it the first day I headed into the field turkey hunting. Thankfully I grabbed it a few days before I started hunting because there was an ant nest inside of it, and they were biters! I hosed it out, but didn’t have the stake to hold it in the ground. After digging through my old arrow pile, I found an arrow that would work just fine.
Throughout our first afternoon in the field, Dallas and I filmed a giant tom working the opposite side of the corn field as us. We called at the tom several times, but despite his gobbling and strutting action, he just wouldn’t come closer. I still considered this pretty darned cool because he was definitely a mature tom turkey, and we got some footage of him.
The following afternoon would find Dallas and myself back into the same Bale Blind in-hopes of seeing the giant tom from the day before. When putting out the decoy, we actually busted a hen from the field, so we didn’t even know if we would be seeing much. Within a few minutes, Dallas was performing his “box call magic”, and the wait was on.
About 45 minutes later, we saw a tom turkey enter the field. It was clear that he was a pig of a turkey, but he was leading a hen. He would work up to about 30 yards in-front of her, and then strut back. I honestly didn’t think he was going to come close because he was entertaining the hen. He worked back and forth within about 60 yards, and started circling parallel to us in the blind. With a hen decoy in-front of the blind, we called a little here and there to try to get his attention enough so that he would see the decoy.
With an occasional view of his strutting fan through the standing corn, he started coming closer to the opening in-front of our blind. I was very aware of the distances and shooting arrangement because we had been deer hunting from the same set-up this past late deer season here in Iowa. I knew if he was in the opening, he was within 40 yards, which was a bad place for him to be. He started working closer and seemed like he was committed to coming into the decoy.
This is a picture of the giant turkey entering the field. My first thoughts were “he’s a shooter”…
As he entered the opening, the old tom was clearly a giant turkey. Even though this tom was interested in the hen decoy, he seemed very cautious. He stayed out at a 35-40 yard parameter around the decoy and our bale blind, never coming closer to investigate the mangy looking hen with arrow fletching strangely sticking through the top of her back.
This shows my not-so-fancy decoy set-up in-front of our blind with the big tom circling at 35 yards…
In the back of my mind throughout these moments was the “Shipwreck” encounter that we had in the same corn field only a few months earlier. “Shipwreck” was the 190 class giant I had at 35 yards from a ground blind and I just couldn’t get a shot into him. With the same exact type of “cautious investigation” as the “Shipwreck” encounter, I wasn’t about to make the same mistake again. With the tom starting to walk back to the hen he was tending, I committed to the 35 yard walking shot and came to full-draw. A quick check with Dallas behind the camera, my anchor was locked, and an arrow was soon in-flight “tom-ward bound”.
This is when the tom started heading back toward the other hen in the field. It was now or never!
Of all the arrows I’ve ever release, boy am I glad this one was true. I hit the tom pretty-much dead-center of his body with a loud “thwack”. Dallas started screaming “you smoked him – you smoked him” and I couldn’t believe I had just shot my first tom turkey. After talking a short bit in the blind, we wanted to go track the bird and make certain he was done. After walking across the field, we saw the turkey and he was still alive. After making a quick stalk, I was able to center another arrow through the bird as he started his “death flap”.
This is Dallas and I in the bale blind just after the shot…
Still not knowing we had just shot the world record, Dallas and I were most concerned with putting the beautiful bird out of his misery. It wasn’t until I peeled back the feathers on his chest when all the beards separated and one after another was visible. My trembling hands sifted through the beards trying to keep track of them as they counted of. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and finally 6 beards were exposed and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’d seen and heard of multiple bearded turkeys, but 6 wasn’t something I’d ever heard of. I proclaimed to Dallas; “I just shot a 200 class Boone and Crocket Turkey Dude”…. Yeah, I still had no idea.
Here is a picture I took of the beards in my hand after just realizing the turkey was a multi-bearded freak bird!
After taking our trophy pictures and making some phone calls, things started to take a turn to the ridiculous. I was SO excited to have killed this tom, I swear I don’t think I would have been any-more excited knowing what I had really just shot. Anyone who has seen our deer hunting videos before already knows what I’m talking about. I can shoot a doe and nearly start crying. Ok, maybe not that bad – but it’s pretty embarrassing I can tell you! This is no exception, but it is what it is. I’m not going to apologize for being myself. Ok, I apologize for those who don’t “get me” because sometimes I hate watching my own stuff!
Sitting in a Huntmore chair that I was fortunate enough to engineer for Huntmore owner Scott Hoffman; well, this is the best testing we can do. Pretty cool I get to combine my skills of product design with my passion for hunting. I’m a very fortunate guy to have Scott many years ago on a hunt in Effingham, Illinois!
Chris Brackett (Arrow Afflictions) was the first guy who let me know exactly what I had shot in his way “You idiot, you just shot a state record or something”. After sending him a cell picture of the beard he replied, “You just shot the new world record, you XXXXX”… I think you get the idea.
This is the Blind Ambitions Bale Blind that we used for this set-up. It worked perfectly!
After doing some “we don’t know how to properly measure turkeys – measuring”, we came to the conclusion that this indeed could be the new world record turkey. By this point all Dallas and I could do is laugh. I mean seriously; I’ve spent the last 22 years of my life basically “living for whitetails”. Every waking second of every single day I spend dreaming of bucks, planning, and working for the upcoming season. As soon as one is complete, we’re already working on the next aspect of our year-around pursuit.
Here’s another picture of the Iowa freaks beard.
The only comparison I can make is to the 12 year old that goes out for the first time bowhunting and shoots a 200 class whitetail. I indeed was just that of the turkey world, and I knew things would never be the same. With that being said, I’ve hunted hard enough over the past many years to realize there is always an element of “luck” in any hunt. I always considered all of my luck to be “made”. In this particular case however, it was not only luck, it was dumb luck! What do you do, every serious turkey hunter is probably going to hate me, but I guess there’s nothing I can do about that now.
The turkey was officially scored by Hazel Creek Taxidermy; and has been entered as the new archery World Record for the Eastern turkey in the NWTF record books. The entire experience has been eye-opening to say the least. I’d just like to thank the NWTF and Hazel Creek Taxidermy for their help with this unknown world of turkey hunting that I have just been thrust into. They have all been just awesome! Most of all, I want to thank my good friend, team member, and cameraman Dan Johnson (Dallas Ft. Worth). Without you brother, we wouldn’t have this experience documented to share with the entire world! The turkey and sport deserves it, and without you this would never have been possible. So, thank you so-so much dude! To think that a 9-fingered guy would film the new world record turkey kill – well, I don’t think you’re missing right index finger would have ever imagined. Definitely not right now anyway.
I would never have imagined in a million years that I would ever be “that guy”. Now that it’s done, I just can’t wait to share the story with everyone. I can only imagine how many “shaking heads” there will be when watching me completely not realize what I have just shot. To those guys, believe me, I feel your pain! With that being said, I’m not going to complain about being “that guy”…
My World Record Archery Eastern Tom Turkey had over 49” of combined beard length. He weighed 25.9 pounds, and had 1-1/4” spurs. He scored 149.6875 which beat the previous record of 139.2400. It could be broken tomorrow, but for the moment it’s pretty cool! Good luck to all the turkey hunters out there! Looks like I’ve got a new spring activity to get serious about. Unfortunately, it’s all down-hill from here!