Turkey-record mystery solved

Larry Woody • May 24, 2017 at 12:00 AM

The mystery of a Tennessee-record turkey killed in Wilson County is solved. It was a simple matrimonial mix-up.

Lebanon’s Brittnee Reynolds – formerly Brittnee Sells – bagged the gobbler.

Brittnee submitted a photo to Tennessee Game & Fish Magazine, and the cutline identified her as “Brittnee Reynolds.”

Sensing a local-interest story, I attempted to locate Brittnee by contacting the National Wild Turkey Federation, the official record-keeper. It had no “Brittnee Reynolds” listed.

After I wrote a column in last week’s Lebanon Democrat about the mystery I got a call – and explanation – from Brittnee:

When she killed the gobbler she was unmarried, so she registered it with the NWTF under her maiden name – Sells.

A month later Brittnee married Hunter Reynolds. By then her record was NWTF-certified, so when she submitted the photo to the magazine she used her new married name – Reynolds.

“That’s what caused the confusion,” Brittnee said. “I was identified as ‘Brittnee Sells’ at the NWTF and later as ‘Brittnee Reynolds’ in the magazine.”

This is her story of the hunt:

“I was bow hunting last Sept. 24 on the opening day of archery season, and no deer were moving that morning. I knew there were some turkeys in the area, so I got out my slate call and called a few times. Three hens and two gobblers came in and I got one of the gobblers right between the wing bones with my compound bow.”

(During deer archery season, turkeys can be taken with a bow.)

The gobbler weighed 16 pounds, 6 ounces, not nearly as big as a 23-pound personal-best longbeard Britteee had bagged on a previous hunt during her three years of turkey hunting.

“But since I got it with a bow, I decided to check on the NWTF website to see how it compared to others that had been taken by bow hunters,” she said.

As it turned out, no other Tennessee turkey was registered under the archery classification, which meant Brittnee’s bird was the biggest. The NWTF also has separate classifications for male and female hunters, so her turkey holds the female record as well.

In addition to its 16 pound, 6-ounce weight, the turkey had a 9 4/16-inch beard and 10/16-inch spurs. The NWTF uses a scoring system that incorporates body weight, beard length and spur length to determine a turkey’s record stats.

“I’m very proud of it,” said Brittnee, who received a certificate from the NWTF. “My husband was as thrilled as I was over it.”

Brittnee struck out during the just-completed spring season.

“I was so busy that I didn’t get to hunt much,” she said. “I didn’t even get a shot. Turkeys are hard.”

Brittnee is employed at Lebanon’s Lochinvar water heater company and is also immersed in a start-up business, Spunky’s Saucy Dog Food Truck from which she sells specialty hot dogs, home-made pies and ice cream near the town square and other Lebanon locations.

She invites folks to come by for a lunch treat – and she’ll also treat them to the story about how she put her name in the turkey-hunting record book.

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