One of the most popular stories in turkey hunting lore is by Archibald Rutledge. “That Twenty-Five-Pound Gobbler” tells of the chase for a massive bird of that particular weight, the likes of which hunters dream about as each spring approaches. Bigger is always better, and some birds surpass the impressive weight by ten pounds or more.

But few tip the scales near the new world record. The National Wild Turkey Federation has proclaimed an Eastern gobbler killed in 2015 as the new record for weight, tipping the scales at a gargantuan 37.61 pounds and easily beating the previous record of 36.125. A 9¼-inch beard and roughly one-inch-long spurs brought the bird to a total score of 76.5399.

David Cody Guess shot the bird on his family farm in Lyons County, Kentucky, on April 21, 2015. It was submitted for official review and named as the new record nearly one year later.

According to NWTF records, he used a slate and a diaphragm call to coax the bird into shotgun range. It now ranks as the heaviest of any Eastern killed with a modern firearm by a male hunter anywhere.

For comparison, the average turkey weighs in at a spare 17 pounds.

The spurs officially measured 1.084 and 1.02 inches, making it the 39th highest-scoring turkey for spurs. The single beard makes the gobbler No. 116 for that category, and its total score ranks as the 204th highest.

When asked about his successful hunt, Guess told The Lake News, “I owe it all to the Lord and my savior Jesus Christ … you just never know what good things can happen.”


Turkey hunting is one of the most passionate areas in the outdoor sporting world; sportsmen have been spilling blood, sweat, and ink over the wily birds for aeons. Sporting Classics’ own Jim Casada, also incurably ill with the turkey disease, has brought many of those dedicated hunters together in one celebratory book. Remembering the Greats: Profiles of Turkey Hunting’s Old Masters is available from the Sporting Classics Store today!