With everything finally lined up and in order, Mike Pentecost headed to Florida to “officially” begin his quest near Yeehaw Junction in Florida with Limestone Outfitters, which only runs a few clients on hunts a year. Mike is good friends with Limestone’s Bobby Carraway and the two have hunted together for several years.
Mike and Bobby, joined by cameraman Terry Sullivan, first hit a working ranch—Florida is full of them—for an afternoon hunt. They started out along a tree line dividing two pastures. As they got closer to the trees, the group heard a gobble not too far away through the other side of the tree line and got set up. As they began calling, the one gobbler turned into two, though both birds were coming from different directions. Just as the birds neared, a black wild hog came charging through the area scaring both toms and shutting them up.
“Needless to say, our afternoon was done,” said Mike. “That was one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen happen down here while hunting.”
The next morning the group headed to a spot where Mike has had luck before, taking a gobbler there several years back while filming a hunt from three different angles. Up at 5 a.m., the group headed for the spot. Bobby has been scouting birds out leading up to Mike’s arrival and has spotted a number of longbeards in the area, including one that is particularly big.
Despite the optimism, daylight greeted them with few gobbles.
“I was ready to go start running and gunning for the toms that did gobble in the distance,” said Mike. But Bobby urged him to sit tight and wait to see how things played out. “When you’re with a guide, the number one rule is you don’t try to guide the guide. It’s their area and they know what’s best.”
It took an hour, but hens, followed by gobblers—three total—all showed up about the same time. The first tom to appear followed a hen onto a dike going away from the hunter’s decoys. But the other gobblers and hens, continued to approach. Before long, they were both a mere 20 to 25 yards in front of Mike—a chip shot—but he held off on shooting.
His cameraman was aggravated by this and Mike says he certainly wrestled with the decision in his head knowing he had 11 birds to kill before the season was up.
“The guide and I knew these weren’t the kind of birds I could kill here. They were both subordinate birds that were only 2 years old. They were certainly nice, legal and mature, but Bobby had told me about some bruisers on the property with long spurs and I really wanted to hold out for a bird like that,” said Mike. “I know I have a goal, but I don’t want this all to be just about quantity. That wouldn’t be right. I want to take the best birds I can, just as I would in any hunting situation. Not that there is anything wrong with taking a bird like this. I still do. It’s just we knew there were better.”
The group continued to hunt through the otherwise slow morning without much success. As the temperatures climbed, they sought out a spot in the shade and set up a makeshift blind of palm branches where they eat, drink, chat and cool off. The day continued on with very few gobbles heard and eventually, the group drifted off to sleep, catching a midday nap—something many turkey hunters love to do!
Mike dozed for awhile when suddenly Terry the cameraman wakes him and Bobby. A big gobbler is strolling in from their left. The bird apparently heard their earlier calls and finally came to investigate. He was locked in on their gobbler decoy. Before they know it, the gobbler rushes in and attacks the decoy!
Mike takes aim, but has to wait on the guide and the camera guy to give him the green light—one of the pitfalls of hunting on camera. If it’s not captured on video, the hunt is useless! They both give Mike the go and BOOM, number 440 goes down and Mike is suddenly one bird closer to his goal.
The Osceola tom is definitely at least 3, possibly 4, with 1 1/4-inch spurs and a 10-inch beard. The time of death was called at 2:30 p.m.