Michael Pearce

Casts and Blasts from the 29th Kansas Governor’s Turkey Hunt

A tom shows his dominance to two others Friday afternoon, during the 29th Kansas Governor’s Turkey Hunt.
A tom shows his dominance to two others Friday afternoon, during the 29th Kansas Governor’s Turkey Hunt. The Wichita Eagle

Here’s a look at what didn’t make it into Sunday’s coverage of the 29th Kansas Governor’s Turkey Hunt in El Dorado.

Gov. Sam Brownback and his son, Mark, both shot jake turkeys on Friday's first afternoon of the hunt. It was the 17 year old's first hunt. Gov. Brownback passed up a shot at a mature tom in the morning, hoping it would give his son an opportunity.

Technically, Gov. Brownback's bird was slightly larger than the boy's, so he won their contest to see who could get the biggest bird.

The Brownbacks were at Thursday's gathering of hunters and guides, but left just prior to the meal at Friday evening’s social event of hunters, guides and sponsors.

So far Gov. Brownback is the first of six Kansas governor's to not stay for at least one entire Governor's Turkey Hunt. This is his fifth trip to El Dorado for the event.

Gerald Lauber, Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission chairman, won the honest hunter award. On Saturday Lauber shot a huge tom that scored more than 74 points, and would have been a hands-down winner of the event. But the hunt penalizes a deduction of five points for every missed shot. Lauber missed one shot at a bird on Friday. He still ended up in fourth place with his 69 point bird.

Artist Jerry Thomas technically shot the largest bird of the hunt, a tom with four beards that scored more than 94 points but the hunt only counts the largest of a bird's beards and not all of them. Therefore, his official score was about 62. He was guided by Kurt Bookout. The tom was shot just a few yards out of the El Dorado City limits.

The hunt's winner, North Carolinian Mat Raymond, took Top Gun honors for the first time. Raymond has attended the hunt for 20 years, and been a significant benefactor in the past with donations, such as picking up the tab for buffet meals for the hunters.

In the photo gallery with Sunday’s article you can see two toms Mike Hayden elected not to shoot on Friday afternoon, hoping for a bigger bird. The birds probably entertained Hayden, and me, for a combined hour's worth of time, attacking the Dakota jake decoy. We figured the larger bird would have scored 68 or 69 points which could have placed Hayden as high as fifth in the event. Birds scoring 69 had placed him in third place on each of the past two Governor's Hunts. He was hoping to finally shoot a tom big enough to wind the event. He eventually shot a bird that scored about 62.

When asked about his plans since he's retired, Mike Hayden said he hopes to continue to travel, do more hunting and fishing, and spend more time with his wife, Patti.

"She's still the best thing that ever happened to me," said Hayden.

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