John's Journal...

How to Miss a Turkey

Day 1: You Will Miss Turkeys If You’re An Avid Turkey Hunter

Editor’s Note: You know two things about anyone who says he’s never missed a turkey - either he lies about everything, or he’s never hunted many turkeys. We all miss, and that’s one of the reasons I enjoy the “Truth” videos that Will Primos of Primos Calls does, because he also shows all the misses in these videos. A fact of life is that if you hunt turkeys long enough, you’ll miss your share of them.

Click for Larger ViewI’ve missed several turkeys in my life, and I remember them all better than any turkeys I’ve ever taken. The first bird was back in the late 1960s after my college buddies had taught me to call. I was using a slate call, and had practiced for two months before winning the approval of my college cohorts. They, by contrast, were master turkey hunters. All of these guys were from rural Alabama where turkey hunting and turkey calling was as much a part of a boy’s development as walking or running.

Click for Larger ViewOn the first afternoon of turkey season, I went into the Tombigbee River bottom swamps. I made several loud yelps, a few clucks, looked at my watch for 10 minutes, and then repeated the sequence. After 10-more minutes, I hadn’t heard a turkey gobble. So, I got-up and quietly walked down the road.

I’d gone about 30 yards when I noticed a large, dark shadow moving through an acorn flat not 30-yards from me. I squatted-down and looked to see a longbeard gobbler headed straight to where I’d been calling. Although the bird was 30-35 yards away, I brought my gun to my shoulder and fired. The turkey took to the air, and I fired two more times. The bird vanished just over a ridge on the other side of a waist-deep slough. Everything happened so fast that I wasn’t sure whether I’d hit the turkey. I replayed the episode in my mind, and then decided that I’d either killed or wounded the bird. That left only one option: I had to wade the slough.

Click for Larger ViewJust because springtime in the South feels warm doesn’t mean that a sufficient amount of sunlight strikes the water to warm it. When I went into the cold slough to recover my turkey, I found out how frigid springtime water could be. I reached the other side of the slough, dripping wet but full of anticipation. As I eased over knoll, I spotted the gobbler. He took off on a dead run. Dejectedly I turned and slushed my way back to the car.

Click for Larger ViewTo learn more about how to hunt turkeys successfully, click here, or visit, and type in the name of John E. Phillips’ latest turkey-hunting book, “Turkey Hunting Tactics,” that’s now available from Kindle books and contains information on all aspects of turkey hunting, including: how to set up on turkeys; how to hunt turkeys; what equipment is best; what’s the differences in western and eastern turkey hunting and how that influences the way you hunt and more. Phillips’ other information-packed turkey books, also available on Kindle, include “The Turkey Hunter’s Bible” and “PhD Gobblers.”

Tomorrow: More Turkey Misses

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Miss a Turkey "

Day 1: You Will Miss Turkeys If You’re An Avid Turkey Hunter
Day 2: More Turkey Misses
Day 3: Misjudging Distance
Day 4: Not Seeing the Aiming Point Will Keep You from Bagging Your Turkey
Day 5: Arrowing A Gobbler Turkey

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Entry 661, Day 1