There are not so many that the value of the trophy has been diminished, but Payson's guests do get more birds than most gunners. A typical turkey shoot starts at about 4:30 in the morning, well before the sun is up. The hunters are driven out by buggy to the edge of the cedar swamp. Here they build makeshift blinds from palmetto leaves or just find a spot in the broomstraw for cover.
"Some people come equipped with all kinds of elaborate turkey calls to lure the birds in," says Payson, "but most of the time it isn't necessary to use them. If a hunter can sit quietly enough, sooner or later a flock will come feeding out of the swamp into the open."
"The waiting is the real test," says Dr. Davis of his turkey hunt at Payson's. "It's a long time until sunup when you are crouched in a blind, and time seems to stop altogether when those turkeys appear at the edge of the swamp. This is when you discover muscles you didn't think you had and the chiggers begin to bite and a fly buzzes around your face. Every time one of those turkeys looks up and goes "putt" you are sure it's talking to you. And while the birds are taking their good old time moving into range, the gun gets heavier and your arms get shakier.
"Then you start to worry about whether the cramp you have developed in your leg is going to throw you off balance when you stand up to shoot. And when you do stand up, and the birds let out a yelp as they clamor into the air, it's such a surprise that you sometimes forget to pull the trigger."
"This is the most amazing part of turkey shooting," says Payson, who flies down from New York almost every weekend during the November-January turkey season in Florida. "I have seen more buck fever on turkeys, even among experienced hunters, than on any other game. Part of it is because of the slow-motion way a turkey flaps its wings when it takes off. It doesn't look like it is going anywhere but actually it is moving at tremendous speed. I had one chap down here who was so surprised when a flock flushed in front of him that he dropped his gun."