O’Fallon, IL man bags five species of wild turkey

O’Fallon, Ill. (AP) – William “Slim” Boente and several of his
buddies are considered royalty in the turkey hunting world.

Boente, a 42-year-old construction worker from O’Fallon,
recently completed the Royal Slam of turkey hunting: shooting all
five species of wild turkey – the Eastern, Rio Grande, Merriam’s,
Osceola and Gould’s – common to North America.

Boente and four of his turkey hunting buddies traveled to
Chihuahua, Mexico, during the last week of April to hunt the
Gould’s bird, the fifth leg of the Royal Slam. Boente; his brother,
Steve Boente, of O’Fallon; and Joseph Wrigley, of Collinsville, all
completed the Royal Slam.

“It’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing, and to get the
opportunity and run with a group of guys like that and do it all
together, especially with my brother, is special to me,” Slim
Boente said. “I probably only know of six or eight guys that have
gotten a Royal Slam.”

According to the National Wild Turkey Federation’s records
database, the trio are the 11th, 12th and 13th Illinois hunters to
complete the Royal Slam. Three other area hunters, from Chester,
Greenville, and Mascoutah, have also accomplished the feat.

Boente, who is president of the Shiloh Spurs, the local NWTF
chapter, has harvested numerous Eastern turkeys. That’s the species
common in Illinois and Missouri.

In 2006, he traveled to Florida to kill an Osceola turkey and
Kansas for a Rio Grande. Boente got his Merriam’s bird in Montana
in 2007 to complete a Grand Slam (the four species of wild turkey
in the United States).

Next on the list was the Gould’s wild turkey, which required a
trip across the border into Mexico. Boente’s hunting party flew
into El Paso, Texas, on April 25, then drove to their campsite at
Rancho Verde, a 10,000-acre cattle ranch in the Sierra Madre
Occidental mountain range in western Mexico.

“It was a blast,” Boente said. “People have this picture of
Mexico, but you don’t picture these mountains and how pretty they
are. Our camp was at 7,000 feet. It was up in no man’s land. When
we left the last village that had electricity, it was another four
to five hours up into the mountains to get to where we were at.

“You have guides, but they don’t do any calling for you. They
basically drop you off in a location and pick you up, so we really
didn’t do a lot of wandering. If you got lost, it’s hard telling if
you’ll find your way back.”

Boente’s group hunted for four days in gorgeous conditions. The
temperature dropped to between 35 and 40 degrees in the morning and
never rose past 75 degrees during the day.

“It was very comfortable with no bugs,” Boente said. “It’s not
like hunting around here with the mosquitoes and the black gnats
and what have you. There were no bugs whatsoever.”

All told, the group harvested six Gould’s birds, which is the
largest of the five subspecies and _ according to Boente – the
easiest to shoot.

Boente used a box call to coax the Gould’s bird he harvested
into the kill zone. It was 500 yards away when it heard Boente’s
call and soon came straight at him in full strut.

“I thought there was no way he’s going to get to me,” Boente
said. “I bet it wasn’t 10 minutes later, he was coming through the
timber, strutting and gobbling all the way in. They’re a real
social bird. The hens would come in, too.”

The six Gould’s wild turkeys shot by Boente’s group weighed
between 18 and 21 pounds. Boente thinks if the birds had grain to
eat instead of having to scavenge for bugs, they could easily weigh
30 or more pounds.

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