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Learning How David Hale Got Involved in Turkey Hunting

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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 (, 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.”

I had to go to college to learn how to hunt turkeys.

Learning How David Hale Got Involved in Turkey Hunting 1Although I really wasn’t all that interested in college, I didn’t want to go to Vietnam. College provided the only out for me – just like it did for many boys back in the 1960s.

I had been raised in the woods all of my life. But I never had done any turkey hunting, because the part of Tennessee where I was from didn’t have any turkeys. However, when I was in college, I heard about a place called the Land Between the Lakes (LBL) ( on the Tennessee border, owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). This Land Between the Lakes was close to my college and was home to two critters I never had seen – wild turkeys and fallow deer.

Because of my country raising, when I had time off from college, I always hung out at the country store with the local folks, instead of the pool hall with the rest of the college boys. Hanging out at the country store came naturally to me, and pool shooting didn’t. In February, all the local men at the store started talking about turkeys and turkey hunting. To listen to those men talk, killing a wild turkey was the greatest accomplishment a man could achieve in his lifetime. Why there were even some men at the store who had seen or said they had seen a wild turkey – which insured their being looked up to and respected by the store’s patrons. Also every now and then a man would come through the store that had killed a wild turkey or said he had. He was immediately recognized as the top dog in the kennel. All the lesser men who only had seen or heard a wild turkey would back off and let that man explain just what was required to kill a gobbler.

Learning How David Hale Got Involved in Turkey Hunting 3Right there in that country store, I made up my mind to become a turkey hunter. I mean after all, what else in life could give a man the respect and admiration of as many folks as taking a wild turkey would? When one of those real wild turkey killers came in, he always commanded and willingly received the highest courtesy of all within earshot. Therefore I knew that if I could take one of those bald-headed birds I could reach heights about which most men only dream. After all, the people you really have to impress in life are the ones you know and respect. And when I was a sophomore in college, I wanted the esteem and the admiration of those folks who hung out at the nearby country store.

I knew I had to figure out how to kill one of those turkeys. I also realized that the job would be difficult, because turkey hunting at that time was not that productive at the Land Between the Lakes. For a 6-day hunt with over 2,000 hunters, the hunters were actually taking only about four to six turkeys.

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.

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