The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

May 5, 2014

Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Making a turkey cape

For the Star Beacon

— Although there are several ways to display your trophy tom, one of the easiest and least-expensive ways is by caping your turkey.

Caping is inexpensive, easy to do, and extremely satisfying. Simply skinning your turkey from head to tail, cleaning and boraxing the skin and pinning it to a flat piece of cardboard is all that's involved.

Follow the simple instructions below for a good looking and simple way to capture the memory of a special hunt:

Tori’s Tumultuous Tom

Fifteen-year-old Victoria (Tori) Mathia who attends, Badger High School in Kinsman, harvested her first turkey this year during the Ohio Youth Weekend.

Birthday gun

Tori and her father, Vince Mathia, headed out to go turkey hunting on the first day of youth season. It was a beautiful morning, a little chilly but clear skies and no rain. The woods were already alive and the birds wear singing. Tori was carrying her brand new Remington 1187, 12 gauge, which was her 15th birthday present which she had only shot to break it in and pattern the new super full turkey choke.

No dice

They had about a mile walk and headed out a little late. As they made their way to their waiting spot, the sun was starting pretty well up. As they eased toward their destination, they heard several Toms across the road. Unfortunately, where they didn’t have permission to hunt, they were gobbling their heads off.

They made their way to the corner of a large patch of woods and a winter wheat field. This was their planned stop to listen for gobbles. They watched as a raccoon made his way back home. While standing there and listening Vince decided to give a little scratch on his slate call, a faint gobble returned from a tom way off in the distance, too far off to even consider trying to chase.

Ol’ stompin’ hill

After the sun was full, Vince suggest to Tori that they head over to the hill were he had called in the first Tom he ever shot on his my own. It was a nice patch of woods with plenty of trees but not a lot of underbrush, perfect for turkeys. They took their time finding the right location and setting out the decoys. Vince told Tori the direction he thought the birds would come from and she set herself up for the hunt.

Light ’em up

Vince started out calling softly with his slate call. After about 15 minutes, he cranked it up a tad bit, again nothing. Undaunted he pulled out his Quaker Boy box call and lit up the woods. Off in the distance, probably 300 yards or so, a Tom answered back. Vince told Tori that the gobbler had heard them and they would try to bring him in.

Vince waited a little while and scratched his slate call. The Tom hammered back. He had cut the distance in half. Vince hit the call again, now even closer, he couldn’t have been 75 yards out!

Wiggle worm

Vince told Tori to get ready. At this point, she starts ripping off her gloves, moving all around. Vince thought for sure the Tom would see her moving. What he didn’t know was that she had two pairs of gloves on and had to get the outside pair off to shoot. Nonetheless, she positioned herself and was ready to go.

In position

Within seconds after Tori’s little dance, the tom cranked out a thundering gobble, he was right on top of them. Tori has her gun up and is ready to go. All of the sudden, she spins 90 degrees to her right. She is now facing 180 degrees away from Vince. He can see the tom is in full strut as he walks behind several large oak trees that are blocking out a good 20 feet of the path he is on.

Boom, bird down

As Tori tried to looked around the trees ,Vince told her to hold still, that the tom would pop out to the left cause he was headed straight for the decoys. Not a few seconds later out he came in full strut at 25 yards. Tori took aim squeezed the trigger and down he went.

Tori’s stats

Victoria (Tori) Mathia shot her first turkey in Kinsman on April 19, 2014 at 7:15 a.m. She was toting a brand new Remington 1187 semi auto shotgun powered by Winchester 3-inch #5 Supreme HV Turkey loads. Her quarry was at 25 yards when she squeezed the trigger and he went no further. She was wearing Mossy Oak camo while using a Pretty Boy and Pretty Girl decoys while her father Vince worked his magic on several calls, a Primos slate call, Quaker Boy Box call, and a Knight and hale mouth call.

Her trophy weighed in at 20 pounds, had a 9.5-inch as well as a 5-inch beard and three-quarter inch spurs.

Mike’s Monarch

Mike Petro Jr. had taken a week of vacation off just to turkey hunt and was looking forward to it, but when the season opened, he soon found out that the birds were not gobbling and coming in to the calls as easy as he had hoped they would.

Time running out

It was Friday morning, his last day of vacation, when he got out of bed at 5 a.m. and made his plan for the morning hunt. The weather was around 50 degrees and supposed to be a decent morning before rain in afternoon. He decided he was going to go sit by a cut corn field where he had noticed 2 gobblers strutting two mornings before and see if they might return.

Early setup

Mike was set up by 5:30 sitting about 40 yards in the woods off the field facing into the woods where the turkeys usually roost. About 6:00 Mike heard 2 birds gobbling, but they weren’t in the neck of woods he was in as he had anticipated. They were on the other side of the field and across the road about a half-mile west of his setup. They gobbled about 15 times but by 6:15, they shut up and the woods went silent.


Oh, great, now what? Mike decided to throw a few soft yelps out and see if anything would answer… nothing. What the heck, I’ll just sit quietly and patiently let mother nature take her course, he thought.

Reality check

Mike was daydreaming when at 7, he was snapped back to reality by the roar of a GOBBLE! He wasn’t expecting that and was very surprised, considering how close it sounded, probably only 100 yards away. Then, it gobbled again, but he wasn’t sure which direction it was coming from. He grabbed his Ol Betsy slate call and yelped. He answered back, game on!

Belly bustin’

Mike made the realization that he was behind him. He could see him through the woods coming across the middle of the cut corn field. By this time he realized he was too close to make much movement. He definitely didn’t want him to spot him. Mike eased down onto his stomach facing the field. As soon as he got down, he saw him coming about 80 yards away out in the field, he was in half strut walking right towards him, gobbling every other step. He knew something was about to happen quick.

Tense situtation

When the bird was at about 60 yards, he slid his safety off and waited for his shot. The bird walked to the edge of the woods and stopped, he stretched his neck out looking into the woods cautiously. Mike could tell he was getting nervous. he knew if he didn’t take the shot, he was going to run.


The bird was a bit further than Mike would have liked but he had confidence in his 11-87 with the 3.5-inch Magnum blends, he knew it would get the job done. He settled his sights on the Monarch’s head and KABOOM! The bird fell like a sack of rocks. Mike stood up smiling and extremely happy, he had finally filled his tag.

“I couldn’t believe that bird came a good half-mile just for me!,” he said. “What a great day!”

Mike’s stats

Mike Petro Jr. harvested his Monarch at 7:15 a.m. in Trumbull Township on Friday, April 25, 2014 while hunting in Trumbull Township. He was shooting a Remington 11-87 Super Magnum 12 gauge shotgun powered by Hevi-Metal 3.5-inch Magnum shells. His bird was at 44 yards when he shot him and went no further. He was wearing Realtree AP-HS camo using a Primos Ol’ Betsy slate call to coax him in. His bird weighed in at 20 pounds, had a 9-inch beard and 1.25-inch spurs.

Remember, pass it on or it will surely pass on.


Orwell Gun Club will be holding Lever Gun, Single Action and Revolver Shoot on Saturdaya t the club, located at 8089 Higley Road in Orwell. Signups will begin at 9:45 a.m. and shoot will begin at 10 a.m. There are no restrictions on the caliber of firearms. The shoot is open to members and non-members alike. Cost will be $3 for the shoot. Targets will be clay birds suspended in a frame. They would like to plan a lunch for the day of the shoot, but need to know how many people are coming. If they have the lunch, they will charge $6 per person instead of $ 3. Call 256-1070 for more information and to sign up.

Orwell Gun Club will host a Women’s Beginning Firearms Clinic on Saturday, May 17 at the Orwell Gun Club grounds, located at 8089 Higley Road in Orwell. Preregistration is required and ladies between the ages of 14 to 18 must be accompanied by an adult. The event will focus on beginning instruction in handgun, rifle and shotgun. FMI, further details and cost, you can email Jennifer Bassett at or call 272-5583 with the names, phone numbers and number of attendees and any question you may have.

Sunderlin is a freelance writer from Geneva. Reach him at