John's Journal... Entry 87, Day 1
Sherry's Slim Chance
EDITOR'S NOTE: My good friend, Sherry Crumley, the wife of Jim Crumley, the creator of Trebark, a longtime, avid turkey hunter, a member of the board of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) as well as wildlife activist in their home state of Virginia, remembers her favorite turkey hunt this week with a wily tom.
I held on to a young elm with my gun between my knees. Turkeys no more than 20 yards away surrounded me. I had hens to the left, jakes to the right and three longbeards in front of me. I'd have to move with the birds looking at me if I wanted to take a shot.
I was wet to my waist and had torn pants, cow manure on the front of my shirt, bruised, aching knees and cut and scratched arms and hands from the briars. I looked as if I'd lost a fight with a bobcat.
"Move slowly and take the shot," Bo Pitman, lodge manager at White Oak Plantation near Tuskegee, Alabama, instructed. "If you move very slowly, I don't think you'll spook the birds. I believe you can get a shot."
As I released my hold on the tree and reached for the gun between my legs, I knew I had only a slim chance of taking a tom. But I had confidence in the ability of my partner, Bo Pitman, a turkey-hunting legend who had built his reputation warring with gobblers.
A master of strategies and offensive tactics, "General Pitman" believes that even under the worst conditions his hunters always have a chance of taking their gobblers -- if they follow his instructions. Bo Pitman does not hunt turkeys. He goes to war with them. Bo will employ whatever tactics needed to get a bird in close enough to take a shot. A master guerilla fighter, he doesn't mind moving slowly and cautiously and taking as much time as he needs to get close to gobblers undetected.
Bo understands turkeys and their habits so well that he knows exactly when to move and when not to move. He even can move on a gobbler with the turkey watching. However, no one should employ Bo's style of turkey hunting except on private lands when only one hunter hunts turkeys on the property.
Earlier in the day, I never felt we would be caught in this situation. We had hunted all morning and hadn't located a gobbling bird when Bo suggested we go to Turkey Valley. "Maybe we can find a lonesome gobbler over there that wants to talk," he said.
TOMORROW: STALKING THE TURKEY VALLEY FLOCK