Editor’s Note: Gary West from Gallatin, Tennessee, returns to Bent Creek Lodge (http://www.bentcreeklodge.com/) in Jachin, Alabama, to hunt turkeys every spring. “I’ve been hunting here for 24 or 25 years,” West says.
I started coming to Bent Creek Lodge, because I wanted to learn how to turkey hunt. Twenty-six years ago I was watching an outdoor show on television of Mossy Oak (www.mossyoak.com) filming a turkey hunt at Bent Creek. I was so impressed with what I saw on the TV that when the TV show posted the number to call for Bent Creek – 205-398-3040, I called and booked my first hunt. Before that first trip, I had no idea about what I would learn and how addicted I would become to turkey hunting.
I started coming back here each year because I really enjoyed meeting the people at Bent Creek. On that first hunt, they treated me like a family member, and I had a good time being with the folks down there. Then I continued to come back since each hunt I went on I learned something new about turkey hunting. I learned that all of Bent Creek’s guides were knowledgeable about hunting turkeys, and most every guide had a different strategy to use for calling a turkey within gun range. I also learned woodsmanship tactics and far more about turkey hunting than calling turkeys. Guides showed me how to evaluate the places we hunted and taught me why gobblers would be in certain places and not be in others, and what to do when gobblers didn’t do what they were supposed to do. Here’s some of what I learned.
* Learn Patience – On my very first hunt, I learned that one of the most-important aspects of being a successful turkey hunter was patience, and that was where most turkey hunters failed. We all believe that the faster we move, the more aggressively we hunt, and the more ground we cover, the greater our odds are for finding and taking turkeys. I don’t believe that the world we live in teaches patience. Patience is an old virtue that comes from a time when everything in the world didn’t move as fast as it does today. Today, very few of us have an opportunity to learn patience. I think the best way to learn patience is to be with another turkey hunter or guide, who has already learned that virtue, and can teach it to me and others.
* Read Turkey Signs – When turkeys go about their daily routines, they leave sign in the woods. A veteran turkey hunter can read the sign and know that a turkey has left it. He interprets those signs better than someone who hasn’t hunted gobblers for as long as he has. Once I was walking down a woods road with a guide, when he showed me how to tell the difference between a gobbler track and a hen track. Then the next time I went hunting, I could look at the tracks and know if a gobbler or a hen was in the area. He also showed me how to determine if the tracks were fresh or old. He proved to me that if you found fresh gobbler tracks you’d probably have a turkey in that region that we could hunt.
To learn more about turkey hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ print, Audible, Kindle and Nook turkey books at http://johninthewild.com/books/#turkey and at www.barnesandnoble.com. You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or SmartPhone. You can learn more about calling turkeys by going to johninthewild.com/audio-files/ for audio turkey tapes to purchase of Lovett Williams, Rob Keck and Chris Kirby, available for download to your SmartPhone, tablet or computer. For a free copy of John E. Phillips’ “The Turkey Gobbler Getter Manual,” go to http://johninthewild.com/free-books/ to download.