First-time turkey hunter bags record-breaking gobbler in New York

Record turkey in NYS

Christopher Tellone, of Suffolk County, harvested a record-breaking bird on May 10.

A first-time turkey hunter from Long Island set a new record for a New York State gobbler earlier this summer, breaking a 24-year-old record.

Christopher Tellone, of Suffolk County, harvested the big bird May 10 during the county’s inaugural spring season. He hadn’t seen much action in the turkey woods and was ready to let it go for the season, but after reading a magazine article about late-season turkey tactics, he was inspired to push through and keep trying.

The bird’s total score, according to the National Wild Turkey Federation was 84, surpassing the previous record of 82.1600, which has held since 1999. It weighed in at 28lbs, with 1.75″ spurs on each leg, and a 10.5″ beard.

Tellone said on May 10 he was on state land, hunting his way back to the truck. Earlier that morning he had encountered a group of gobblers that were uninterested in his calls. He gave up on them and was slowly making his way out when he noticed a flock with four toms several hundred yards out at the edge of a brushy field.

Tellone, 32, wasn’t confident in his calling skills, so he decided to use another tactic. He positioned himself where he anticipated the turkeys would travel to attempt a shot. He hoisted his gun on his back and belly crawled through the field with the turkey decoy in front of him. He alternated between a slow and steady pace and quick bursts where he had cover.

“I did this for about an hour or so over 200 yards,” Tellone said. “At this point I’m covered in mud, there is mud in my pants, mud all over the gun. I’m all wet. I’ve got poison ivy all over me, but I’m making progress.”

Scattered throughout the field were small pine trees, about three feet tall. Tellone made his way to a tree at a vantage point where he thought he had a chance. As luck would have it, the turkeys decided to cross in front of him at a 45-degree angle. Using the tree as cover, Tellone set his sights on the largest of the four toms.

“The one in the front was huge,” he said. “I would expect that the biggest one would be the oldest and most aggressive. That was going to be the shooter. I let a shot off and he dropped.”

Tellone, newly coined “Long Spur” by his hunting buddies, said he would have been happy with any turkey. Breaking a record was never a goal. He knew this turkey was big, but he didn’t realize how big until he took it to a taxidermist, who compared it to going out in the Adirondacks and shooting a 12-point buck on public land.

Sealing the deal on this turkey all came down to persistence.

“My father taught me to never give up,” Tellone said. “Even when something goes bad in life, and especially with hunting, when things don’t look like they are going to pan out, just keep pursuing. That’s how this happened. I didn’t give up. I didn’t blow my cover. I hunted my way back to the truck and came across the opportunity.”

The NWTF keeps official records of wild turkey harvests, comparable to how Boone and Crockett is considered the standard for whitetail deer records.

Tellone’s turkey specifications from NWTF:

  • Total Score - 84
  • Bird Sex - Gobbler
  • Species - Eastern
  • Harvest Location - Suffolk, N.Y.
  • Home State - N.Y.
  • Longest Beard - 10.5 in.
  • Number of Beards - 1
  • Longest Spur - 1.75 in.
  • Other Spur - 1.75 in.
  • Weight - 28.0lbs
  • Method of Take - M Firearm

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