Alex Rutledge Explains the Shot At and Missed Turkey

Bowhunting Turkeys

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Seeing a Strange Turkey Hunt with Mike Cockerham

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Editor’s Note: Mike Cockerham of Oglethorpe, Georgia, has been hunting wild turkeys for 25+ years. “I have owned only one camouflage garment that wasn’t Mossy Oak ( since 1986. I was hunting in Wyoming and was about to freeze to death. I went to the store, and the only camouflage jacket I could find was an off-brand camo pattern.”

One season, I was hunting in Dooley County, Georgia, the county below where I live, over a clear-cut where I knew there had been some turkeys. The only place I could find to take a stand was a pine top that had been cut down and was on the ground. I crawled into the pine top and cut a hole through which to shoot. When I started calling, two gobblers flew down behind me, spitting, drumming and strutting as they came toward me.

I was throwing my call out in front of me, so the birds would think a hen was out in the clear-cut. They walked around the pine top to look for the hen I was imitating. As I looked over my shoulder, I could see the gobblers moving toward me as I purred and clucked like a contented hen. The right side of the pine top, where I was sitting, was blocked with brush. I didn’t think the turkeys would walk through this brush, so I was hoping to funnel them around the right side of the pine top and out in front of me. Suddenly I heard both gobblers clucking with loud, raspy, harsh gobbler clucks. Then, the strangest thing I ever had seen in my life happened. One of the gobblers must have decided that instead of running to the hen, he would fly over the top of the tree and get to her before the other gobbler could go around and arrive there. Another scenario might have been that the gobbler wanted to look down into the pine top for a predator before he reached the hen.

Until we can get inside a tom’s brain and read his mind, all we know is that this gobbler, for some reason, flew over the pine top. The gobbler looked down in the pine top to see what was there, but he didn’t see me because of my Mossy Oak camouflage. When the bird hit the ground, he was 20 steps from me. I wasted no time squeezing the trigger on my shotgun. I don’t know what happened to the other gobbler, but I’m pretty sure he ran off when the shooting started.

To learn more about turkey hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ print, Audible and Kindle turkey books at For a free copy of John E. Phillips’ “The Turkey Gobbler Getter Manual,” go to

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