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Photo contributed by Larry Case / Dave Miller, shotgun product manager and pro shooter for CZ-USA, patterns the CZ Reaper Magnum. This over-and-under 12-gauge shotgun was the weapon of choice for Miller and "Guns & Cornbread" columnist Larry Case during a recent turkey hunt in Missouri.

The magic hour is about to happen. Turkey hunters already know this, but the magic hour is that wonderful time just as the world wakes up for another day. It is not daylight yet, but the first cardinal has sung, minutes later you may hear the first crow, and the barred owls may still be whooping it up after partying all night.

After each barred owl song (they say who cooks for you, who cooks for you awlll!), you strain your ears for the sound you truly long to hear: the gobble of a wild turkey.

This morning I stand beside Dave Miller in the Missouri darkness. Last time, as you may remember in part one of this adventure, I traveled to the Show-Me State for another round of chasing turkeys with Mr. Miller, who is shotgun product manager and pro shooter at firearms company CZ-USA. Two airplanes and a short truck ride later, we are a little east of Kansas City — CZ-USA's headquarters are there — and Dave has some turkey spots for us to check out.

On this first morning, I listen with great anticipation for that first gobble. It is cool, in the mid-30s, but a beautiful, bright spring morning, and the songbirds are performing the "Hallelujah Chorus" to start the day. When Dave turns toward me with a grin, I know he has heard gobbling and I didn't. Too many years of gunfire with no hearing protection, plus an episode with a 3 1/2-inch magnum next to my ear several years ago, has left my hearing a little lacking.

No worries; I expected it. As I turn toward the turkey music, soon I can hear them, too. Two, maybe three gobblers are sounding off to the world, and they aren't bashful about it. Along with Elissa Crossland, videographer and photographer for CZ-USA, we pile into the two ground blinds to wait and see if we can lure the gobblers in our direction.

After several minutes in the blind (with me fidgeting while trying to peek out a window), we determine the gobblers, although very vocal, are not coming our way. Dave, Elissa and I start an overland sneak trying to intercept the turkeys. The amount of gobbling decreases and then stops, and we are afraid we have pulled the typical blunder of coming too close and getting spotted. Our little party slips into the area we last heard the gobblers, and we set up to call, decoy planted before us. I feel for Elissa as we are in the wide open and she is filming, and Dave and I have told her she cannot move!

After a while, I cut my eyes to the right, and on the side of a little ridge in front of us, out of shotgun range, stands a very large gobbler. I freeze and wonder how much I have moved while he was there; the turkey starts an occasional cluck — a sure sign he has seen something. He slowly walks away but then later circles back, though never in gun range, of course!

We spend the morning trying to trail this band of gobblers, but they are being very standoffish and rude.

We leave the woods before noon, and Dave soon has us at the next order of business, and that is lunch. No one is going to starve with him around, and I like that! Today we hit Zarda's, an established name in the realm of barbecue in this area. Everything on the menu is tempting, but I know I will have to go with my standard, the pulled pork sandwich. It is a mountain of juicy pork wonderfulness, and I stumble back to the truck in a mild stupor.

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Photo contributed by Larry Case / Shown are CZ-USA's CZ Reaper Magnum shotgun and patterned targets.

The next morning, Dave and I are back in the same area, but of course the gobblers have moved. Rain is threatening, but we slip to the other side of this property, where a couple turkeys are in full voice. We get a little too close and several hens bust off the roost trees, but somehow the gobblers stay put. I think we are OK for several minutes, but soon the boys alarm putt and hit the air.

It is now very quiet, we are alone and it starts to rain. You might say we were a little disheartened.

We try to keep up the good fight and advance into the woods with some calling to the departed gobblers, but no dice. We take stock, figure the whole day is ahead of us and light out for greener pastures. Dave has another place to visit a few miles down the road. Hope springs eternal in the human breast (this also goes for the turkey hunter).

We arrive at the new place, and one of those magical things is about to happen that keeps us turkey hunting after days of getting up too early and dealing with gobblers that act like they owe you money. We park at the entrance gate and are greeted with about a 30-minute downpour. It was great. I pulled down my hat and took a short but welcome snooze. When I awake, Dave informs me a hen is feeding out into the huge pasture field in front of us. We watch for several minutes, and I say "Gee, wouldn't it be funny if a big gobbler walked out there?"

So guess what happened? About 10 minutes later, a big gobbler is seen coming out on the edge of the field!

Never at a loss for what to do, Dave says he will ease out of the truck on his side take his shotgun, the CZ-USA Magnum Reaper 12-gauge over-and-under, made for this work, and try his hand at fanning or reaping this turkey. If you recall, reaping is a term used when the hunter shows a gobbler a turkey fan, mimicking a turkey in full strut. Often the gobbler does not like this and advances on the hunter to pick a fight. Miller will do a low crawl (on the rain-soaked ground) and use an umbrella-like device that, when opened, shows a big gobbler printed in the nylon material.

I watch from my ringside seat, and when Dave is in position, he opens the device and reveals the fake gobbler. I watch the gobbler for a reaction, and he turns and immediately starts toward his opponent — no hesitation!

Do you think Dave is going to bag this turkey? I didn't at the time, but as I have gone on too long (again), you will just have to tune in next time for part three of this tale of the itinerant turkey hunter on the road (again)!

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Contributed photo / Larry Case

"Guns & Cornbread" is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You can write to him at larryocase3@gmail.com.

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