When our youngest son, Jay, James Followell was living in Hilo, Hawaii, my wife really wanted to go visit him. In 2007 I finally gave in when I found out that they had Rio Grande turkeys on the Big Island. We coordinated our visit to see Jay with their turkey season. I contacted John Sabati, who was the State Chapter President of the NWTF and happened to be a great guy and a tremendous turkey guide.
After spending time with Jay, Teresa and I drove to the other side of the island to meet up with John the following morning in the small town of Captain Cook. When John picked me up from the hotel early the next morning, we headed to Kealia Ranch for some turkey action. It wasn’t long before I had a long beard on the ground for a dirt nap. My bird weighed 17.8750 pounds, with a 9.25” beard, and the spurs were .9375” & .75”. Boy was I happy we decided to visit Jay!
Teresa and I returned to Hilo after John took a few pictures and we said our good-byes, but I wasn’t done turkey hunting yet! While I was doing my homework on turkeys in Hawaii, I found out that most of the land on the Big Island was privately run, and there was only one small public hunting area. Hilo is on the east side of the island and Kona was on the west side, but between the two cities, there are the Mauna Loa (13,678’) and Mauna Kea (13,803’) mountains. Between the two peaks is Hwy 200 (Saddle Road), which connects Hilo and Kona; on that road is the Kilohana Hunter Checking Station. After I parked at the check station and signed in, I walked into the area, hoping to harvest another Hawaiian slobber-mouth.
When I left Jay’s house in Hilo it was sixty-five degrees and near sea level, but when I parked at the check station, it was thirty-eight degrees and approximately 8000’ elevation (burr). I didn’t walk very far before I heard a bird gobble, so I found a suitable place to set up and began to call. It was only a few minutes before I saw a fan coming towards me. I got ready and soon had my second bird on the ground in Hawaii. He weighed 20.1875 pounds, sporting a 9.375” beard, and had a 1.0625” right spur & a 1.1875” left spur – what a great bird!
Now, whenever Teresa wants to go somewhere to visit someone, I always check to see if they have turkeys!
PS: Of course, when traveling with a firearm, you must jump through several hoops set up by the TSA. For instance, to fly out of St. Louis, I had to go to a special desk, and they took me to a special room for inspection. My shotgun and the ammo had to be in separate locked cases, and then I had open them in front of TSA and they carefully inspected everything (which is good) before letting me check it through. But then in Hawaii, we couldn’t locate the special desk. Then, we noticed my gun case on the luggage carousel going around with all of our other luggage! Needless to say, they were a little more laid back in Hawaii.