John’s Note: Doug Shipp from Jachin, Alabama, has been turkey hunting for more than 40 years and has been a turkey-hunting guide at Bent Creek Lodge (www.bentcreeklodge.com) since 1987.
We have quite a few first-time turkey hunters hunt with us at Bent Creek Lodge. I’ve learned that if you’ve never seen a turkey in the woods, you really don’t know what to look for when you’re trying to see one. On one hunt I called a turkey that was out in the open to within killing range. I told my hunter to, “Kill him.” “I can’t see him,” my hunter whispered back. The turkey was only 20 yards from the hunter, and the hunter was looking straight at the bird. However, again he told me, “I can’t see the bird.” So, I watched that turkey walk off without my hunter taking a shot. When that turkey was gone, the hunter said, “I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t see the turkey.”
Why I Don’t Cross Creeks on Foot Logs:
I don’t mind getting my feet wet to reach a gobbler, but I’m not going to walk across a foot log. I’m afraid of heights, and I’m afraid I’ll fall. One client I was guiding asked when we got to the edge of a creek, “What are we going to do now?” I smiled and answered, “If we’re going to kill that turkey, we’ll have to cross the creek.” Although the creek was deeper than my thigh-high rubber boots and higher than my client’s shin-high leather boots, I went across the creek first. My client followed along behind me. Because the turkey was about 80 yards from the creek in front of us, after we got out of the creek, we moved about 20 yards closer to the gobbler. Then sure enough, my hunter took his bird that morning.
I won’t try and cross a creek if I don’t know the depth of the water where I plan to cross. Here’s why. A friend and I were buddy hunting one day when we heard a turkey gobble on top of a ridge. The place we were hunting was flooded. This turkey was on a ridge out of the water, so we started walking on the same ridge toward the gobbler. Then the ridge dropped off into a creek. To get to the turkey, we had to cross that cut in the ridge. My friend said, “I’m going to that turkey, and I’m going to cross this cut and wade the water.” I told him, “I’m not going to cross that cut, but you go ahead.” He quickly said,”I don’t believe this creek’s going to be very deep right here.” I watched my hunter step into the water. The next thing I saw was his hat floating, and his gun and turkey call being held out of the water a little bit above his elbows. Finally he came out of the water – dripping wet from the top of his head to the tips of his leather boots. He managed to collect his hat and went to where he could call in the bird. The bird had left the area from where he’d been gobbling. In a little while, I spotted my friend coming back, looking like a drowned rat. I realized he’d have to cross that creek again. Once again I saw him go into the water over his head, holding his gun high, and he came out again dripping wet. He didn’t talk much as we walked back to the truck. He was wet, but I was dry.
Doug Shipp on “Why I Like to Guide Turkey Hunters:” https://youtu.be/8pUbJgnKf6M
To get John’s book, “The Turkey Gobbler Getter Manual,” for free, go to www.johninthewild.com/free-books to download.
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.