2018-05-17 / Outdoors

‘Megatom’ goes down; more out there

Not in usual haunts
By Alan Campbell
Of The Enterprise staff


GREG KIESSEL and 8-yearold Brady Turner with the unlucky turkey they nicknamed Megatom. GREG KIESSEL and 8-yearold Brady Turner with the unlucky turkey they nicknamed Megatom. Turkey hunters are finding toms in some non-traditional haunts, and some nimrods are connecting.

Just ask Greg Kiessel of Suttons Bay, who took a jake back in the first turkey season then guided his step-grandson to what they nicknamed “megatom” last week.

Another tom caught a lucky break on their first time out.

Eight-year-old Brady Turner had never been hunting before Monday, May 7, the opening day of the nearly month-long final turkey session. Using a double barrel .410 — a caliber light enough for 55-pound Brady but perhaps undersized for a mature tom turkey — Brady pulled the trigger on a bird in Bingham Township.

“He rolled that turkey, then it got up and he rolled it again, then it got up and laughed at us and flew away,” recalled Kiessel.

Both hunter and mentor figured they had better change their weapon of choice. But Brady’s first attempt practicing with a .20 gauge proved a bit overpowering.

TIM STEIN, who had already shot an adult tom, helped Nathan Zientek bag this 22-pound trophy with a 9-1/2-inch beard on April 23 at approximately 7:15 a.m. — just after the bird had flown down from his roost. The two were hunting in Cleveland Township. TIM STEIN, who had already shot an adult tom, helped Nathan Zientek bag this 22-pound trophy with a 9-1/2-inch beard on April 23 at approximately 7:15 a.m. — just after the bird had flown down from his roost. The two were hunting in Cleveland Township. Not to worry, Kiessel told the boy, as he could borrow a “420” that was just a tad larger than the .410 Brady felt comfortable shooting.

Here’s where they had some luck, as they gained permission to hunt on a neighboring farmer’s property while searching for the first tom that Brady had hit.

They also asked another turkey hunter in the area if he would hold off shooting the tom that Brady eventually downed. He agreed.

And some of their eventual success was planning. Kiessel had actually passed on that same tom, choosing instead to take a nearby jake.

Kiessel recorded the hunt on his phone, with Brady’s “Wa-Hoo!” yell clearly audible. He followed with, “That’s crazy.”

“After we got done shooting the bird, I said, ‘You know, there is no 420.’ He looked down at the (lettering) on the gun and said, ‘I know, this is a 20 gauge.’”

Only one pellet was found while dressing out the tom, which weighed 21 pounds and had a nine-inch beard. Brady is the son of Josh and Amber Turner of Elmwood Township. He attends Glen Lake Community Schools, where his mother works.

Kiessel and Brady were hunting on and near the cherry farm owned by Bill and Betty Kiessel and Don and Jan Kiessel. Don Kiessel died with cancer over the winter just as the Kiessel family was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Cherry Festival.

The turkey harvest represented a complete comeback for Brady, who one year ago was stuck in a full body cast after surgery to repair a hip socket that had grown at a different rate than his femur.

“He’s going from not being able to do anything to getting a megatom,” Kiessel said. “I think there was divine intervention, that uncle Don was guiding that pellet right to where it had to go.”

As to turkey hunters still hoping to fill licenses, Kiessel suggested looking beyond the usual haunts where toms have been found in the past.

“I’ve been seeing a lot of them, but it’s spotty. I would say you need to scout. Places where I would normally see them, they aren’t there,” he said.

Return to top