Lessons Learned from Matt Morrett’s Toughest Gobblers
Blake Shelton’s Turkey with Matt Morrett
Editor’s Note: Matt Morrett of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, began his outdoor education while accompanying his father to the woods at the age of six. His love of hunting turkeys and deer found him sitting in the cold woods, waiting for rut-swollen November bucks and straining his ears in the spring, hoping to pick up a gobble ringing across the ridges of Pennsylvania. Morrett has perfected turkey calling to a degree that few others have matched. Dedication to fine-tuning his calling techniques has earned Morrett more than 50-turkey-calling championships, including five World Friction Turkey Calling titles, six U.S. Open Turkey Calling victories and the coveted Grand National Champion title. In 1994, Morrett put his calling to the test by taking an eastern bird in Missouri, a Rio Grande in Texas, an Osceola in Florida and a Merriam’s in South Dakota to complete the Grand Slam of all four subspecies of the wild turkey. Morrett travels the country conducting seminars on turkey and deer hunting. Using his knowledge, he helps design and field-test many of the products manufactured by Hunter’s Specialties to aid hunters.
I was filming a TV show, “Country Goes Hunting” and was hunting with Blake Shelton, a country-music singer. When I was younger if I heard a turkey gobble, I’d start running as though I’d been shot out of a cannon. I’d want to reach that turkey as quickly as I could, get as close as possible to the bird, do some fancy calling and try and take him. If I didn’t hear a turkey call, I’d be like a warrior on a mission. I’d cover as much ground as I could, using a tactic known as cutting and running, and try to locate a turkey by moving as quickly as I could from calling spot to calling spot. However, as I became older, I learned that many times patience would take more turkeys than speed. My dad always practiced this philosophy of turkey hunting. If I’d been wiser, I’d have learned the turkey-hunting game from him.
Our goal and mission on this hunt was to try and help Shelton take a longbearded gobbler, something he’d never done. The landowner took Blake and me to a group of turkeys he’d hunted before because he knew several gobblers in the group were extremely vocal. When we first heard the turkeys, we were about 200-yards away from them. In my younger days, I would have taken off running and gotten Shelton to run with me to close the distance to about 100 yards. We were hunting down an old logging road, and I knew we wanted to get as much video footage as we could of the turkeys coming in to where we were calling. We decided to go ahead and set up where we were and hopefully call the turkeys to us so we could get footage of them coming from a long way.
After I’d been calling to the gobblers, and they’d answered me for about 20 minutes, a hen piped-up and began to call. So, I changed the conversation from talking to the gobblers to talking to that hen. I gave her some excited cuts and cackles and really tried to get that hen fired-up as she talked to me. At the same time, the gobblers started gobbling and began moving toward us. I’d never hunted this ground, but after the hunt, I went to where the turkeys had initially started gobbling. I saw that if we’d been in a hurry and attempted to run in closer on the birds, we would have gone through some open woods. The gobblers would have seen us and been spooked. Finally the gobblers and the hens came right on in to us, we got a great piece of video, and Shelton got his longbeard.