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Going to War on Turkeys Day 1: Bo Pitman Chases Turkeys

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John E. Phillips’ Note: When I go after a turkey, the war begins. If I don’t have to swim a creek, crawl through fresh cow manure, run through briars, climb trees, jump barbed-wire fences or slide down mountains, then I have had an easy day afield chasing turkeys. Like other aggressive turkey hunters who are scrappy and adventurous, I decide before ever leaving my home that whatever I have to do that’s legal and moral, I’ll do that day to take a tom turkey.


Aggressive hunting is not just chasing turkeys, outflanking turkeys, calling loud and long to turkeys or continuing to hunt after all hope seems gone. Going to war with turkeys is a state of mind that dictates that no matter what happens during the day, you will endure and battle fiercely, until you take your tom, or you have to be physically drug back to camp because you’re exhausted. Through the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to hunt with some of the most-enterprising war lords of the turkey-hunting fraternity who have taught me the value of being aggressive when hunting turkeys.

One of those men is Bo Pitman, formerly the manager of White Oak Plantation. Lean as a razor blade, keen-eyed like a hawk, swift as a cheetah and blessed with the tenacity that riding bucking Brahman bulls most of his life brings, Pitman defines the words, aggressive turkey hunter. When Pitman leaves the lodge, he has that faraway look in his eye as if he’s been called of God to find and kill a longbeard. Pitman’s success lies in his knowing where and why a turkey wants to go to a certain place, and when the bird will go there. Like General George Armstrong Patton, Pitman is a battle strategist – both enterprising and determined when hunting turkeys.


“That turkey can’t strut up and down the road in this hot sun past 10:30 am,” Pitman told me. As we sat on a grassy knoll 200-yards away from a field, we watched a strutting gobbler overseeing a flock of hens, three subordinate gobblers and three jakes through our binoculars. Pitman explained that, “When those black feathers heat-up from the sun, that big tom will have to move to the shade in the woods. Once we see the line of travel the turkey will take, we’ll hightail through the woods across the field to get in front of him and take a stand just inside the wood line. Then all we’ll have to do is call to him ever so softly, and he’ll walk right to us.”

Finally, at 9:55 am, the flock started to walk toward the wood line. We were hunting on White Oak’s private land with no other hunters on the 2,000 acres where we were.

“Take your shells out of your gun, John,” Pitman said. “Let’s go back down this hill, and make our move.”

Turkey hunter with his trophy

Once we were behind the protection of the hill, we stood-up and then sprinted for about 300 yards, making a wide circle around the field to get ahead of the turkeys. Once we arrived at a position where Pitman thought he could watch the field, he quickly and quietly climbed-up the back side of a tree like a squirrel. Using binoculars, Pitman looked through the trees to the field and spotted the turkeys.

When Pitman descended from the hickory, he whispered, “We need to move quickly about 50 yards toward the field and then take a stand.” I followed Pitman. After letting the woods settle for 5 – 10 minutes, Pitman made three, short, low yelps. Five minutes later, the big gobbler was in my gun sights. The tom went home with us for dinner that night.

Tomorrow: Larry Norton Calls Turkeys Continuously

John’s latest print book was published last week: “Turkeys: Today’s Tactics for Tomorrow’s Longbeards,” and the Audible version should be available April 1. In his book that includes John’s time-tested ways to take turkeys from his 50+ years of hunting them, he mentions that the two ways to learn how to turkey hunt both work. You can learn all about turkey hunting by yourself through trial and error, which is the slowest way to learn to turkey hunt and means you’ll make the most mistakes. Or, you can hunt with the best turkey hunters anyone knows and learn from them what they do, why they do it, when they do what, and what not to do.

Expert Guidebooks on Turkey Hunting: Best Sellers

Turkey Hunting Tactics
This turkey hunting audiobook has entertaining chapters like: “How to Miss a Turkey”, “Hunting with a Guide”, and “The Turkey and the New York Lady”.

You’ll learn about all the subspecies of turkey across North America, how to use a turkey call, how to scout before turkey season, how to find a turkey to hunt, and what hunting gear you’ll need to put the odds in your favor to take a wily gobbler.


How to Hunt Turkeys with World Champion Preston Pittman
You easily can take a turkey if you don’t make any mistakes, but you have to know what the deadly sins of turkey hunting are to keep you from making those mistakes. If you understand how to hunt a turkey, you’re far more likely to take a gobbler than if you just know how to call a turkey.

Of course, calling is important, and if you want to learn to call a turkey, Preston Pittman will teach you how to call turkeys with box calls, friction calls, diaphragm calls, and other turkey sounds.

You’ll also learn why Preston Pittman once put turkey manure all over his body to kill a tough tom.

When you have turkeys that strut and drum in the middle of a field, when you know there’s no way to get close enough to get a shot, Pittman will show you some weird tactics that have worked for him to help you hunt tough ole toms.

But the main thing you’ll learn in this book is how to become the turkey.

Using what he’s learned while hunting wild turkeys, he’s also become a master woodsman who can take most game, regardless of where he hunts. To learn more secrets about how to be a turkey hunter from one of the world champions of the sport, this turkey-hunting book with Preston Pittman is a must.


The Turkey Hunting Guides’ Bible
The quickest way to learn how to turkey hunt successfully is to either hunt with a turkey hunter with years of experience or a turkey-hunting guide. These two types of turkey hunters have solved most of the problems turkey hunters ever will face. 

Just as one size of shoes won’t fit every person, one style of turkey hunting doesn’t fit each hunter.  Each turkey-hunting guide interviewed for this book has his own style of calling, hunting, and outsmarting turkeys.  

While listening to this book, make a list of the new information you’ve learned, take that list with you during turkey season, and try some of the new tactics. Then you’ll become a more versatile turkey hunter and prove the wisdom from The Turkey Hunting Guides’ Bible.   


Outdoor Life’s Complete Turkey Hunting (2nd Edition)
This Audible book will help you learn how to call turkeys with two of the nation’s best, longtime and well-known turkey callers, Rob Keck, formerly with the National Wild Turkey Federation, and Lovett Williams, a wildlife biologist who recorded wild turkeys giving the calls that you’ll learn how to make on various types of turkey callers.


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