Editor’s Note: With turkey season opening in a month in Florida and then mid-March in some of the South, we need to remember that tough turkeys teach us difficult lessons. Let’s listen to some of the best turkey hunters in the country tell us about the tough turkeys they’ve tried to take.
“The Roadrunner Turkey roosted in an area in Alabama that had a lot of old logging roads,” Don Shipp of Clinton, Arkansas, the winner of the World Turkey Calling Championship several times, says. “When you’d go in and start calling to him, or when he flew down, he would take off in one direction, gobble a little bit and then wouldn’t gobble much at all. But he kept walking. I hunted him with clients for about a week and never could catch up with him. One morning I decided not to mess with him. I took off and went to another henned-up turkey. On my way back around, I heard the Roadrunner way up by the truck. He was coming straight down the road in my direction, doing just what he always had done. My client and I walked halfway to him. I sat down with my client in front of me and didn’t say anything because I knew what the Roadrunner liked to do. I felt if I called, he’d turn and go the other way. The turkey came down the road, walking just like he always did. He’d walk 60 or 70 yards as fast as he could, stop, gobble, throw his head up in the air and listen. If he didn’t hear anything, he’d take off walking again. He walked up about 30 yards from us, gobbled and stuck his head up, and my hunter shot him. I was lucky and had gotten in front of him. But I also knew what he liked to do, and so I didn’t call to him.”
Mark Drury, the founder of M.A.D. Calls, the winner of numerous turkey-calling contests and co-owner of Drury Outdoors (www.druryoutdoors.com), has made his love for turkey hunting into his life’s career. Although Drury spends his entire turkey season in the woods attempting to film the perfect turkey hunt, the turkeys don’t always cooperate. “My 72-year-old uncle, Marvin Drury, killed one of the toughest turkeys on video that I can remember,” Drury recalls. “Although we hunted with Uncle Marvin for three or four years, we only seemed to film him missing and spooking turkeys. Terry, my brother, and I had the cut-and-run mindset, the let’s-go-get-them aggressive style of hunting. My Uncle Marvin had turkey hunted since 1960, when turkey season first opened in Missouri. He always called very softly and conservatively and often hunted out of blinds. Our style of hunting turkeys really shook him up and startled him. I roosted a couple of birds for him. I got in tight on a normal roost site and roosted the birds. I scraped out a footpath down to the birds, so he could get in and out very easily off the logging road. I built Marvin a little blind, and we set-up on them.
“The next morning, we heard three hens and two gobblers fly down from the roost. The hens moved far to the left of the gobblers. Then I intentionally bumped them away from the gobblers even more. The two toms gobbled their heads off, trying to call the hens back to them. After approximately five years of trying, Marvin killed his first turkey on video with me. Uncle Marvin taught us a lot about turkey hunting. We took on a challenge when we tried to mesh his laid-back, calm style with our cut-and-run tactics. The turkeys came in and worked, and we got the bird. So roosting them really helped.”
To learn more about turkey hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ print, Audible and Kindle turkey books at http://johninthewild.com/books/#turkey. For a free copy of John E. Phillips’ “The Turkey Gobbler Getter Manual,” go to http://johninthewild.com/free-books/.