Great weather and improved wild turkey populations across central Kansas led to impressive success rates Friday and Saturday at the Governor’s Annual Turkey Hunt in El Dorado.
Greg McKenzie, hunt scorer, said 43 of the 73 participating invited hunters shot at least one turkey, for a success rate of 59 percent. McKenzie rated that as “real good.”
• First place for the largest bird went to Mike Miller, of Barrington, Ill., with a score of 73 11/16 points.
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His 23.97 pound tom had a 10 1/2-inch beard and both spurs were 1 7/16-inches long.
McKenzie scored all birds on the National Wild Turkey Federation’s formula of weight + 2 times beard length +10 times the length of each spur.
Miller shot his bird in Butler County, and was guided by Rick Putska.
• Second place was won by Jason Vanderbrink, of Nixon, Mo., with a score of 70.63 points.
His 23.5 pound tom had a 10 3/4-inch beard, and spurs of 1 3/8 and 1 3/16 inches.
Vanderbrink shot his bird in Wabaunsee County and was guided by Lance Nolan.
• Third place was won by Mike Hayden, of Lawrence, with a score of 69.63 points.
His 22.25 pound tom had a 9 5/8 inch beard and spurs of 1 1/2 and 1 5/16 inches.
Hayden shot his bird in Butler County and was guided by Ramon Criss.
McKenzie said most hunters reported seeing a lot of turkeys, especially yearling jakes.
Several unsuccessful hunters said they had opportunities at nice-sized toms, but held their fire hoping for a gobbler big enough to win the event.
After failing the previous two years, Gov. Sam Brownback shot his first turkey Friday morning while hunting with guide Danny Armstrong.
He also volunteered for his first wildlife violation citation.
Wounded, the tom he shot started to run, and in a bit of confusion Armstrong told Brownback to shoot another bird.
Eventually that left Brownback with two toms and only one wild turkey permit.
Brownback had declined getting a $10 second turkey permit earlier, citing his failure to get even one bird the previous two hunts. Buying a second permit after the second tom had been killed would have been illegal.
He voluntarily called Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism law enforcement officials and reported the incident. At the scene, Seth Turner, El Dorado State Park manager, said department protocol on such accidental crimes was to confiscate the illegal game and issue no citations.
Brownback said that could reflect poorly on Wildlife and Parks, the Governor’s Hunt and his office so he instructed to Turner to issue him a citation.
He was cited for illegally shooting over his limit, a Class C misdemeanor. Turner estimated it would cost about $200 in fines and court costs.
Brownback was allowed to keep the first turkey, a tom of about 18 pounds with a 9 1/2-inch beard.