John’s Note: Avid outdoorsman Jerry Lambert of Battle Creek, Michigan, has been hunting turkeys for almost two decades and has been a Mossy Oak (www.mossyoak.com) Pro Staffer for 8 years.
I hunted this turkey about 2 or 3 years ago. Every afternoon after work, I saw this gobbler in a field that my dad owned, and this turkey would be leaving my dad’s field going toward our neighbor’s property. I tried for three afternoons to call that turkey back into my dad’s field, but he wouldn’t come. Finally, I decided to hunt that turkey on the weekend, so, I could get to the field earlier than 4:00 pm. One Sunday afternoon, I arrived at the field at 3:00 pm. I decided to use a system that I use today that I call, “glass, spot, stalk, call, turkey, go, boom.” I glassed the turkey first and got as close as I could to him. Then I stalked to the other side of the field, staying out of the turkey’s sight.
I reached the spot where I had seen the turkey go out of the field on 3 consecutive days. When I got 150 yards from the gobbler, I started calling to him with three different hen turkey calls. The gobbler ignored all three calls. After I saw the turkey wasn’t going to come to the hen calls, I started gobbling to the turkey, and he acted a little more interested. Then I used two other callers I hadn’t used previously. I started calling to the turkey using hen calls on these two calls and watched as that ole bird slowly walked across the field, coming to me. I was dressed in full Mossy Oak camouflage and sitting in the shade of a big tree. When the turkey was within 30 yards, because he couldn’t see the hen that had been calling to him, he was about to bolt and run. So, I took the shot and secured that gobbler.
This turkey with his 10-inch beard, 1-inch spurs and weight of 20 to 21 pounds taught me the most about turkey hunting, because I had to use just about everything I had read in books about how to hunt turkeys. I had to:
* stay out of sight of the gobbler and use my binoculars to make sure that the turkey in the field was a gobbler;
* stalk all the way around the field without the turkey seeing me to get in as close as I could to the turkey before I started to call;
* set-up along the trail that from pre-scouting I knew he had used to leave the field;
* use just about every turkey call I had in my turkey vest, before I found the combination of calls that would make the turkey come in to me;
* be able to read the turkey’s body language to see which calls were having an effect on the turkey and be able to determine which calls the turkey wanted;
* be well camouflaged against a big tree and sit on the shady side of the tree, so the turkey couldn’t see me;
* be able to read the turkey’s body language to know when and why he was about to leave and when to take the shot; and
* remember to aim at the turkey’s wattles with my cheek on the stock, and to make sure I was looking straight down the barrel before I squeezed the trigger.
I think the most-important thing I learned from this hunt was how to read a turkey’s body language, how to understand what calls the turkey wanted to hear and come to, and which calls this gobbler would ignore. One of the most-exciting things for me was to determine what was happening in that turkey’s mind when I called to him. Many times when you call to a turkey, you don’t get to see how he responds to your calling. When I first started calling to this gobbler, I was doing everything right, but the gobbler couldn’t have cared less. However, when I gobbled to him and used two hen calls I hadn’t given before, I realized those were the sounds that would cause him to walk straight to me.
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,” (also available in an audio book from http://www.audible.com/pd/Self-Development/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 book, “The Turkey Gobbler Getter Manual,” for free, go to www.johninthewild.com/free-books to download.