John's Journal...

Unorthodox Tactics for Desperate Turkey Hunters

Day 1: Learn about Owling for Gobblers

Editor’s Note: The classical ritual of the turkey hunt is that of a skillful hunter artfully deceiving the gobbler to make him come into range with calling skills alone. But the sport of turkey hunting doesn’t always go that way. And, rare is the hunter, who’s still without a turkey after weeks of frustration, who is above trying some unorthodox tactics. The names have been changed this week to protect the “guilty.”

Click for Larger ViewBack more than 40- years ago when I was still mounting animals and birds while writing parttime, a proud hunter stood in my taxidermy shop admiring his 20-pound, 8-1/2-inch-long bearded gobbler. As always, I asked the same familiar question that all hunters must ask when admiring someone else’s trophy. “How did you get him?” Click for Larger ViewHowever, I wasn’t prepared for the answer I received. “I owled him up,” the excited novice said. “This is my first gobbler, and I’ve never heard of anyone just owling to a gobbler to kill him. But it really worked for me.” With squinted eyes, I inquired, “How do you owl-up a turkey? I know they’ll come to a turkey call. However, I’ve never heard of a gobbler coming to an owl call.”

“Oh, they don’t come to you,” the man explained. “You have to go to them. You have to be quick, too. Here’s what I did, and the method seemed to work fine for me. Before daylight, I started making sounds like an owl. Actually at the time, I was just entertaining myself until there was enough light to start using the new turkey-calling box I’d just bought down at the hardware store. Well, I owled a couple of times, and an ole bird gobbled. He shouldn’t have ever done that, because then I knew right where he was. I started moving fast to get to him before he could run off. Each time I wasn’t sure where he was, I’d owl. Then he’d gobble right back. Day was just beginning to crack when I saw him silhouetted against the sunrise in the top of a big beech tree. I saw that he was looking in my direction. So, I snuck-around behind him and came-up on his blind side. Click for Larger ViewWhen I was about 15-yards from the tree where he was standing, I propped-up against a sapling and started to aim. I realized that the tom was high in the tree, and that my shot probably would drop some at that distance. So, I aimed a little over his head. When I squeezed the trigger, the ole boy fell like he’d been hit with a ton of bricks. Shoot! This owling is a good way to hunt turkeys if you know how to sneak-up on the birds. Click for Larger ViewI think I’m onto something really good.” After I heard this bushwhacker’s story, I had to laugh a little. The guy didn’t realize how non-classical it was to blow a gobbler off a roost. All he knew was he’d broken new ground in the field of turkey hunting.

To learn more about hunting tough toms, buy John E. Phillips’ book, “PhD Gobblers,” containing information from top turkey hunters, including Eddie Salter, Alex Rutledge, Matt Morrett, Rick White and others, for your Kindle for only $2.99 at

Tomorrow: Taking a Hush-Mouthed Gobbler


Check back each day this week for more about "Unorthodox Tactics for Desperate Turkey Hunters "

Day 1: Learn about Owling for Gobblers
Day 2: Taking a Hush-Mouthed Gobbler
Day 3: Hunting Booger Creek Bottom Gobblers Can Test Your Sanity
Day 4: The Challenge of Hunting the Hickory Ridge Runner Gobbler
Day 5: The Downfall of the Ole Eagle Eye Gobbler

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Entry 654, Day 1