What to Do if You Want to Hunt Turkeys
Day 1: The Quickest Way to Learn to Hunt Turkeys Is to Hunt Them with Lovett Williams
Editor’s Note: Turkeys don’t have teeth. There’s no report record of a bird charging a man and eating him. Neither do turkeys have supersonic hearing which allows them to detect a fly lighting on an oak leaf at 200-yards. Turkeys can’t see through large oak trees. But many newcomers to the sport may believe some of these myths because of the hype associated with hunting Meleagris gallopavo. I have heard a sportsman say, “I’d really like to get into turkey hunting, but I can’t call.” Or, “I’m afraid I’ll move and spook the bird.” Or, “Maybe that old gobbler is smarter than I am.” All of these ideas are nonsense.
One of the nation’s leading experts on turkeys and turkey hunting, Lovett Williams, put it best when he told me that, “If a man wants to learn to hunt turkeys, he ought to buy a call, go into the spring woods and start hunting. The quickest way to learn to hunt turkeys is to hunt them.”
A prime example of this philosophy was demonstrated years ago when I was in college at the University of West Alabama in Livingston, Alabama. An older hunting buddy of mine, Smiley Shaw, owned a restaurant in a nearby town. Each day during turkey season, members of a construction crew who were building a new highway came into the café and listened to Shaw’s tales of high adventures while doing battle with longbeards. Finally one of the men, Joe, who had taken a liking to Shaw, asked, “How about taking me along one day? I want to see what this turkey hunting is all about?”
Because Shaw had enjoyed Joe’s company, Shaw invited the construction guy to accompany him on the following morning. Before daylight, Shaw picked up Joe, who was decked out in brand-new camouflage and proudly held a box call and a borrowed shotgun. “On the way to the woods, Joe told me that he’d been practicing calling for 2 or 3 hours the night before,” Shaw remembered later. “Joe said, ‘Listen to this,’ as he slid the lid across the box and produced a sound so horrible that it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. However, Joe was so proud of his calling ability that I didn’t have the heart to tell him how bad the sound was.
“When we arrived at the woods, I dropped Joe off and then walked about 150-yards away from him to where there was an old gobbler I had been fooling with for two or three mornings. I lied a little when I asked Joe to wait until 8:00 am to call, because the birds wouldn’t fly down from the roost until then. I planned to start calling early to see if I could locate a tom and take him before Joe could mess up my hunt.
“Just before first light, a gobbler sounded off. I called to him. After that tom hit the ground 80-yards from me, I attempted to call him in until 7:45 am. Although the bird strutted, displayed, came to within 50-yards and then walked off, he never gobbled. Finally at 7:45 am, I gave up and decided I’d move in close and listen to Joe play with his turkey call.
At exactly 8:00 am, Joe dragged the lid of his box call across the side of the box. The sound of that instrument would have terrified a tomcat. However, the turkey I’d been talking to gobbled to Joe’s calling. Not knowing enough about turkey hunting to be quiet, Joe hit the box again. Once more the turkey, which had moved closer, answered. Each time the gobbler sounded off, Joe answered back with one of his awful calls.
“In less than 10-minutes, Joe’s borrowed shotgun reported. When I heard Joe scream, I thought he’d shot himself. But when I reached him, he proudly held up a 20-pound gobbler with 1-1/4-inch spurs and a 10-inch beard as he told me, ‘Smiley, there’s not very much to this turkey hunting. I did a little calling and killed a bird. I don’t guess I have to hunt turkeys any more since I know what it’s all about. Taking turkeys isn’t nearly as tough as you’ve told everybody it is!’
“At that point, all I could do was agree with Joe and ask if he’d call for me on the following morning.”
To get these Kindle ebooks by John E. Phillips, including: “The Turkey Hunter's Bible, click here; “PhD Gobblers; click here; and “Turkey Hunting Tactics, click here, or go to http://www.amazon.com/kindle-ebooks, type in the names of the books, and download them to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.
About the Author
John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.
Tomorrow: Learn How to Become a Turkey Hunter and How to Find a Place to Hunt