John's Journal...

Osceola Turkeys with William Sullivan on the Lands of General Van Fleet

Hunting with the Right Stuff

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: William Sullivan, president of the Florida chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), has hunted turkeys in Florida all his life. During the first of March in 2007, I hunted with him on property formerly owned by General Van Fleet, a general during the Korean War, who entertained most of the generals from the Korean and the Vietnam wars on this property. Too, the lodge on this property has been used by the Queen of England, President Eisenhower, the President of Korea and many other national and international dignitaries.

We were hunting a field and set up a stand with a big pasture in front of us. We arrived at our stand site before daylight. As the first rays of light announced the presence of the coming day, we heard hens tree calling, yelping and clucking. We also heard two gobblers screaming right behind us. “We’re pretty much underneath those turkeys,” William Sullivan, a 35-year veteran of hunting Florida’s Osceola turkeys, explains. We also heard a turkey gobble off in the distance to our right.
When the turkeys finally flew from the roost, instead of pitching down in the open field in front of us, they pitched out to a field behind us. I was ready to chase the gobblers we’d heard at daylight, but Sullivan said, “Let’s sit still awhile and see what happens.” In less than 20 minutes, we heard the gobbler to our right coming to us as Sullivan called to him. Although we had a decoy out, the gobbler never spotted it. Click to enlargeHe moved slowly and deliberately down the edge of the field, stopping to gobble and strut. Sullivan kept on calling. As the turkey got closer, he knew he should’ve seen a hen, especially one that was calling as much as this hen was calling to him. When he was at 40 yards and still hadn’t seen his sweetheart, he turned off the edge of the field and started into the woods.
“I’m gonna have to take him,” I said. I’d patterned my Thompson/Center .20-gauge Encore at 40 yards, and the Winchester 20-gauge Xtended Range HD (High Density) No. 5 shells, I knew I could make the shot. I was also using the Hunter’s Specialties V-Pod Shooting Stick that attaches to the barrel of your gun, holding the gun in place and giving a solid rest when shooting. When the turkey stuck his head up, I squeezed the trigger and the big bird folded.

Now, this wouldn’t have been a very difficult shot for a .12-gauge, 3-inch magnum, but when you consider I was shooting a .20-gauge, most hunters don’t believe a small, lightweight .20-gauge effectively can take turkeys at that range. However, I had all the right stuff. I was using the Hunter’s Specialties Undertaker High Density Ported Choke Tube, the Winchester .20-gauge Xtended Range HD No. 5 shells, the V-Pod Shooting Stick and the very-accurate Thompson/Center .20-gauge rifle. I also wore the Hunter’s Specialties’ Sportsmen’s Utility Vest with two new features – a Gun-Stock Buddy, a loop that snaps onto the vest and holds your gun up as it rests in the V-Pod. Click to enlargeThen you can use your hands to operate a friction calls, or just relax comfortably without having to hold up the gun. The folding seat in the back of this deluxe vest has an air-cushion seat on the bottom and a back rest, allowing you to pull the back forward to give your back better support, even if you’re not leaning up against a tree. I know already I’ll be using this vest for squirrel hunting, turkey hunting and any other type of hunting where I need to carry equipment and want a comfortable seat. When all of this equipment was combined with the lightweight, easy-to-handle, deadly Thompson/Center .20-gauge Encore, I had extremely-efficient hunting aids that made this turkey hunt comfortable and fun. Every piece of my equipment was designed for taking turkeys, and the test of the equipment came when I squeezed the trigger, and the bird went down. The Winchester Xtended Range shells, a non-toxic shot, gives you get better pattern and density than you’ll have do with lead. Shooting those Hunter’s Specialties’ Undertaker Ported Choke Tubes with these shells drastically increases the density of your shot pattern, especially out to 40 yards.

Sullivan called in the turkey with the Hunter’s Specialties Split V II, the Slate Witch Call and the 360 Yelper. “I mainly call with the Slate glass call, because not only can I call loudly with it, but I also can call softly,” Sullivan says. “I can’t control the volume of the calling with my mouth nearly as well as I can with the glass call. That turkey was coming in so fast and so close that I really wanted to call to him softly. I’d heard the hens in the tree behind us, and even when they came down, they weren’t calling loudly.
Click to enlarge One of the secrets to calling turkeys is to imitate the calling of the turkeys in the area. I called to that turkey so much because I wanted to get him fired-up and interested in coming to us. But, mainly, I wanted him to see that decoy, which he never really did. Many times, when you see a turkey coming to you, you may want to stop calling. However, with this particular turkey, I noticed that the more I called, the more he kept moving toward us.
I think this turkey was a whipped-off turkey. By that I mean, he wasn’t roosted with the other two gobblers, and he sure wasn’t roosted close to the hens. The other two gobblers probably had whipped him and forced him to stay away from them and their hens. So, when he heard a hen that had apparently strayed from the rest of the flock, he wanted to get to her quickly before the other gobblers came and beat him up. He’d probably heard the other turkeys that were roosted right by us gobble and heard the hens call, so when he heard a hen that didn’t go with the flock but instead stayed at the roost site, he thought he had an easy date.”

To hunt with William Sullivan, you can write him at 2830 Blackwater Oaks Dr., Mulberry, Florida 33860, or call him at home (863) 425-6104, or on his cell at (863) 640-1395, or you can email him at

To learn more about Hunter’s Specialties top-quality turkey-hunting products, visit For more information on Thompson Center’s fine guns, go to

Tomorrow: Hunting with a General


Check back each day this week for more about "Osceola Turkeys with William Sullivan on the Lands of General Van Fleet"

Day 1: Hunting with the Right Stuff
Day 2: Hunting with a General
Day 3: Private Land Osceola Hunting
Day 4: Public-Land Turkey Hunting
Day 5: Green Swamp West



Entry 397, Day 1