[portfolio_slideshow]By Matt Kelton Pioneer Sentinel
In one weekend, while competing in the Clay County Turkey Fest, 11-year-old Blaine Martin did what many turkey hunters fail to accomplish in a lifetime. With three 20-gauge shotgun shells, the boy from Joy harvested four Rio Grande turkeys, and beat some of the top turkey hunters in the country.
Blaine, the only youth hunter to turn in birds for the Turkey Fest Battle of the Beards, harvested two turkeys Friday morning while hunting with his father on the Flying M Ranch in Archer County. He entered both in the contest pitting local hunters against celebrity hunting teams.
The largest of the two birds had three beards totaling 37.25 inches, enough to earn Blaine the Battle of the Beards championship over five adult hunters who entered the competition. The turkey weighed in at 19.3125 pounds and had spurs that scored 15 points.
Blaine’s winning turkey scored 71.5625, beating the top celebrity hunting team turkey, shot by Michael Aho of Huntin’ the World Southern Style, by more than 11 points.
He is the son of Billy and Elaine Martin, and a fifth grader at Windthorst Elementary. He is the grandson of Bettye Childs England of Wichita Falls, Ethylene & Bill Fort of Gainesville, and the late Nelson Steindam of Henrietta.
Billy Martin said with a grin on Saturday that Blaine’s turkey hunting days might be over. “There’s no way he can top this.”
After Blaine received awards, including a free tail fan mount from Braden Cecil’s Pioneer Wildlife Studio, during Saturday’s Full Strut Banquet, Emry Birdwell of Henrietta asked Blaine if he would like to go hunting Sunday morning.
Sitting at Birdwell’s table during the banquet was Joe Staley of Ringgold. During the event’s live auction, Staley had purchased an opportunity to hunt with Hal Schaffer and Bob Pippin of Drop Zone TV at the Sanzenbacher Ranch near Joy.
Schaffer and Pippin called birds most of the morning until, not long after 10 a.m., two Toms came within range. Blaine pulled the trigger one time – one shot and they both fell.
Aho’s turkey won Huntin’ the World the title of Turkey Fest World Championship, scoring 60.75 points, and longest beard among the celebrity teams with 21.75 inches. Aho’s bird weighed 19.625 pounds, and had spurs that scored 19.375.
Mike Stroff of Savage Outdoors brought in the heaviest turkey, weighing 20.3125. Stroff’s turkey would have been in the running for the title had it not been missing a spur. The turkey’s lone spur scored 11.25 points. The bird had 21.5 inches of beard for a total score of 53.0625.
Bob Pippin of Drop Zone TV won the longest spur award. Pippin’s turkey had spurs scoring 20.0 points, an 18.5-inch beard and weighed 17.375 pound for a total score of 55.875.
Battle of the Beards
Colby Robinson of Henrietta won the Battle of the Beards adult division and took second place overall with an 18.25-pound bird. The turkey had 19.75 inches of beard and spurs scoring 25.0 for a total score of 63.
Chad Davis of Bowie brought in the heaviest Battle of the Beards entry with a turkey weighing 20.625 pounds. Davis’ bird had a 17.25-inch beard and spurs that scored 18.125 for a total of 56 points.
Cliff Swenson of Petrolia had the second heaviest bird in the battle, 19.9375 pounds, with a 20.5-inch beard and spurs scoring 20.0 for a total score of 60.4375.
Craig Haile of Bowie had the longest bearded bird in the adult division with 23 inches. Haile’s turkey weighed 17.375 pounds and had spurs scoring 21.25 for a total of 61.625 points.
Ken McMaster of Florida brought in the first bird weighed during Turkey Fest, a 19-pound turkey with a 19.75-inch beard and spurs scoring 11.25 for a total of 49.5 points.