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Successfully Turkey Hunting Public Lands Day 1: Why Hunt Public Lands for Turkeys

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Editor’s Note: David Owens from Acworth, Georgia, was the 2018 National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) Grand National Senior Open Division turkey-calling champion. In 2017, he completed an almost-unbelievable feat by taking the U.S. Super Slam of wild turkeys, harvesting 49 gobblers in the 49 states that home wild turkeys with 90 percent of those birds harvested on public lands. Owens reports that, “No matter which states I’m hunting turkeys, 99% of the lands I hunt in the Southeast are public lands.” Owens started hunting turkeys when he was 13 and has been hunting them for 20 years but only has been entering turkey-calling contests for a decade.


When asked the difference in calling the various races of wild turkeys in the 10+ states and terrains Owens hunts each year, he explains, “The places we call, the calls we use successfully, and the tactics we employ are site-specific. One of the secrets to hunting multiple states for various races of wild turkeys is the hunter’s ability to adapt to conditions like terrain, weather and habitat. You’ve got to be willing to face tough turkey-hunting situations.”

Owens likes to hunt public lands because they give him the opportunity to stretch his legs and cover a lot of ground. “I don’t have the ability or the finances to buy enough land to keep me occupied throughout turkey season. But with national forests, state forests, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands and other public lands that I can hunt, I can cover an awful lot of ground in several states. I’m a run-and-gun type turkey hunter and don’t like to stay in one spot very long. But, if you turkey hunt every day of each season in a number of different states for three months, you’ve got to have a lot of land to hunt to keep from over-pressuring the turkeys.”

Owens and his friends go West, since there’s even more public land to hunt there than is available in the East, and the turkey seasons are later, especially in the Northwest. They enjoy hunting Merriam’s in mountainous terrain and beautiful scenery with big timber, the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming and New Mexico and Arizona too. They also hunt the Rio Grande turkey in Washington, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.

Turkey hunter receiving his trophy (x2)

“I enjoy going places I’ve never been before and hunting terrain and turkeys that are different than the terrain and turkeys I have in Georgia,” Owens explains. “I’m totally hooked on the interaction I can have with a wild turkey gobbler once I find him. I like the challenge of hunting various types of terrain to find and take a gobbler. I’ve also learned that each race of turkey reacts somewhat differently when hunted, depending on the state and the type of terrain he lives in, and I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of trying to figure out where I need to be, and what I need to do to take that bird that day in that state.

“As long as I’ve been hunting turkeys, I still never know what’s going to happen when I’m hunting them. I have to look for ways to adapt to the unexpected to be successful. I don’t really get upset when the turkey beats me. I try to learn something – even when I lose to a turkey. I enjoy the challenge of the unknown each day.”

Tomorrow: How to Hunt Public Land Turkeys

Check out John E. Phillips’ 12th book: “Turkeys: Today’s Tactics for Longbeards Tomorrow

  • hunting strategies with pros Will Primos, David Hale, Eddie Salter, Preston Pittman, Allen Jenkins, Terry Rohm, Paul Butski, Larry Norton and others.
  • information about taking turkeys with .410 shotguns.
  • box-call techniques.
  • strategies for moving on turkeys.
  • ways to hunt public-land gobblers.
  • the differences in calling and hunting Eastern, Osceola and Western turkeys.
  • the latest research on turkeys; and other information.

Click here to check out John’s 12th turkey book.

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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