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Illinois Outdoors

94-year-old shoots turkey

May 04, 2008 at 04:46 AM

When it comes to stalking turkeys, Fort Cowan of Peoria is getting better with age.

Hunting last weekend on his Marshall County farm, Cowan, 94, shot a 25-pound gobbler that had a 9 1/2-inch beard and spurs measuring 1 3/8 and 1 1/8 inches. The turkey is the largest of three Cowan has shot and could well make him the oldest successful turkey hunter in Illinois. Even if that’s not true—and finding records to prove or disprove the claim may be impossible—the bird undoubtedly ranks as another highlight in an already rich lifetime of hunts.

Cowan shot his first duck, a blue-winged teal, at age 13 east of the Henry bridge. He’s been outside ever since, including last fall at the Crow Creek Duck Club he established in the 1930s. As if that’s not enough, Cowan is planning to make an annual fishing trip to Ontario once again in June.

“I figure the outdoor life has kept me in the shape I’m in,” says Cowan, whose 95th birthday is Sept. 15. “Of course, I take a lot of vitamins, too.”

Cowan also has friends who make sure he can get around. On the turkey hunt last Saturday, Cowan was assisted by Woodruff assistant football coach Ed Smith. This is the second year they’ve hunted together and Smith has a system to make things go smooth. Cowan sits in a swivel chair and Smith then places a hunting blind around him.

Cowan sat in the cold from about 5:30 to 9 a.m. last Saturday before he started getting chilly and fidgety after not even hearing a turkey. So Smith proposed a move to another part of the farm where they had called in birds last spring. Shortly after setting up the blind and turkey decoys, they heard faint gobbling through the wind. Smith yelped like a hen turkey and the gobbler responded, behind them.

So Cowan swiveled around and got ready.

Then the turkey hung up out of range, gobbling occasionally for 20 minutes but not coming any closer. So Smith pulled used his own gobble call in an effort to entice the big bird closer. The strategy worked, as the big tom walked toward the blind at full strut.

“We saw him gobbling quite a ways away and then he went over a hill and I was afraid he’d left,” Cowan said. “But he came back up and gave me a real nice shot.”

That was all the opportunity needed for Cowan, who has been proficient with a shotgun since he received a Winchester Model 12 for his 13th birthday. “I was a duck hunter from then on,” Cowan said. “Nothing compares to duck hunting.

That said, Cowan admitted he has come to enjoy turkey hunting—particularly his last trip to the timber.

“I’ve never seen a bigger smile than the smile I saw on (Cowan’s) face,” Smith said. “Except maybe my 7-year-old son Jed’s smile a few days ago when he experienced his first turkey harvest.”

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

God Bless the Gentleman!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/07 at 10:27 PM

Mr. Cowen,  Congratulations!  Good bird hope you bag many more.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/08 at 02:08 PM

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