Taking Early-Season Mississippi Turkeys with Preston Pittman
Get Them Coming
Editor’s Note: In mid-March, I hunted with Preston Pittman of Pickens, Mississippi, at Lifetime Hunts, LLC, (601-859-8313; www.lifetimehuntsllc.com) located at Brookson Plantation in Macon, Mississippi. As most of you know, at the first of turkey season, the gobblers oftentimes are still bunched-up and/or with hens. This week, Preston Pittman, the creator of Preston Pittman Game Calls (601-544-8090, www.pittmangamecalls.com) and a World Champion turkey caller, will tell us how to solve the problems resulting from henned-up gobblers, as well as explain how to get your early-season bird.
Question: Preston, where did you hunt in mid-March?
Pittman: I hunted with Danny Grove, host of “No Fences Outdoors,” (www.nofencesoutdoors.com), premiering on the Sportsman Channel (www.thesportsmanchannel.com) summer 2009, at Lifetime Hunts, LLC, in Macon, Mississippi. Danny and I were guests of the Mississippi Department of Tourism (601-358-3603) and Lifetime Hunts. Mississippi has plenty of turkeys, and Lifetime Hunts has about 9,000 contiguous acres as part of its 10,000 acres of hunting land. Turkeys, deer and plenty of wild hogs roam these woods. Too, there’s quality fishing in the ponds at Lifetime Hunts. This spring, we’ll take turkeys, hogs and catch fish there. At Lifetime Hunts, we have available everything that writers, photographers, videographers and hunters need. Longleaf Camo (866-751-2266; www.longleafcamo.com) also sponsored this hunt and Vicious Fishing Line (866-645-0024; www.vicious-fishing.com) provided our fishing equipment.
Question: Tell me about the hunt.
Pittman: It was a traditional hunt. At this time of year, during the early season, the gobblers are still grouped together, and the peak of breeding season hasn’t yet occurred. I was in familiar territory where I’d hunted before, so I knew where to set up. I heard the turkeys gobbling early, but when the gobbling bird flew from the roost, he shut-up. When this happens, generally the turkey has flown-down and met his hens, so there’s no reason for him to continue gobbling. At that point, we started travelling and calling. Another turkey gobbled, but he wouldn’t budge either.
At around 9:15 am, I returned to the spot where we’d heard the first turkey gobble. By 9:30 am, we were close to his roost tree, so I started calling. Oftentimes when a gobbler flies from his roost tree to meet-up with hens, but there’s food and water nearby, he won’t travel very far. Sometimes you can return to the site where you’ve heard a turkey gobble at first light, and that gobbler and his hens will be within calling distance. When I returned to this spot and began giving loud hen yelps, a hen started calling back to me. I thought to myself, “We’ve got a chance.”
In a flock of turkeys, usually a boss hen determines where the flock goes and who will be part of the flock. She’s the supreme matriarch. Realize that, you probably won’t call a gobbler with hens away from those hens. So, call to the boss hen, and get her to bring the flock of turkeys to you. When the boss hen answered me, I immediately called back to her, mimicking the sound of her voice and giving her the same cuts and cackles she was giving me. The volume, the excitement and the range of the hen’s voice told me she was moving toward me. I told Danny to get his gun up and prepare to take the shot.
Tomorrow: Close the Deal When a Gobbler’s With Hens