John’s Note: Hunting a turkey is different than calling a turkey. To take a turkey by hunting and not calling, you must learn the tom’s daily routine from when he flies off the roost and then flies back up. You also need to know where the turkey’s going and when he should arrive. Then you may can bag that bird without calling him. David Hale of Cadiz, Kentucky, co-founder of Knight & Hale Game Calls (www.knightandhale.com), was known as a turkey taker before he learned to use a turkey call. To become a master of the sport of turkey, Hale believes that a hunter must learn to hunt turkeys first and to call them secondly. As the late 5-time World Champion turkey caller Ben Rodgers Lee always said, “There are some turkeys that if you call to them, you’ll never take them.”
After 5 years of hunting turkeys on the Land Between the Lakes (LBL) and having a reputation as a pretty good turkey hunter, I was embarrassed that I didn’t own a turkey call and didn’t know how to call a turkey. However, I met Harold Knight of Cadiz, Kentucky, who had called turkeys all his life. I picked Knight’s brain about how to call turkeys, and I talked him into making me one of his homemade turkey calls. Then I began to call turkeys. But I still believe that one of the reasons most turkey hunters don’t take more turkeys is that they feel like they can pick-up a turkey call, make a few sounds and be an instant success – rather than learning how to hunt turkeys and just using the call as icing on the cake.
The one factor that most turkey hunters completely overlook is that a tom turkey’s coming to the calling of a hen is unnatural. You are trying to get that bird to perform an unnatural act, because in nature the hen will go to the tom when she hears him gobble. If a hunter understands and realizes that letting the turkey do what he wants to do is easier, and that to kill the tom you need to be in a place where he wants to come, you successfully will take more gobblers than if you rely so heavily on your calling ability.
Turkey calling is only 10 to 20 percent of what is required for taking a turkey. Learning to hunt without a call is responsible for 80 percent of my success in killing gobblers. My ability to call is only 15 percent. The other 5 percent that also must be figured in is just pure luck.
To learn more about turkey hunting from the masters, get these Kindle eBooks and print books by John E. Phillips, including: “The Turkey Hunter’s Bible (available as an eBook or in paperback),” “PhD Gobblers: How to Hunt the Smartest Turkeys in the World,” “Turkey Hunting Tactics,” “How to Hunt Turkeys with World Champion Preston Pittman,” “The 10 Sins of Turkey Hunting with Preston Pittman,” and “Outdoor Life’s Complete Turkey Hunting.” Click here to get these books. To get John’s newest book, “The Turkey Gobbler Getter Manual,” for free, click here.