Mike Pentecost and his turkey trophy

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The Master Public Land Turkey Hunter Day 2: How to Hunt Public Land Turkeys

Wild turkey
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Editor’s Note: Mike Pentecost, the founder and owner of Woodhaven Custom Calls, Inc., in Heflin, Alabama, has been hunting turkeys for more than 40 years – spending most of his hunting life on public lands. He had a burning desire to build the best possible turkey calls when he started his business in his grandparents’ basement in the 1980s. His passion led to the development of his well-known calls – the Red Wasp and the Cherry Classic Crystal (all made in the USA). His company always has given superior customer service. As Pentecost explains, “I want to always have the faith and the courage to continue following the Lord and doing my best.”

Turkey hunter after shooting a turkey and Mike Pentecost turkey hunting

Probably the biggest information I’ve learned from hunting public-land toms is not to do what most turkey hunters do to find and take a killable gobbler.

  • I don’t owl hoot before or at daylight to try and make a turkey gobble.
  • I let the gobblers wake-up when they want to wake-up and don’t attempt to force them to gobble early.
  • I’m a very-conservative caller, even though I’m a call manufacturer. If I can just cluck and bring that gobbler into gun range, that’s all I’ll do.
  • I give the tom the amount of calling he allows me to give him. I can’t write down or explain how to take a turkey’s temperature. I think you just have to feel in your soul how-much calling that a gobbler will tolerate and don’t give him any more than that. On public lands, most turkeys have heard plenty of calls from the hunters there. However, if you listen to hens in the woods, they don’t call very much or loudly. Those hens know the more they talk, the more likely they’ll call in a predator that will try to kill and eat them. So, I believe that the least amount of calling I can give to a gobbler and get him to come to me is the most-natural kind of calling to which a bad bird on public lands will respond.
  • I like to hunt bad birds. If you’ve listened to enough ole toms gobble, you’ll notice that at the end of their gobbles, they seem to swallow those gobbles and almost choke themselves on them.
  • I’ve learned that you need to try and determine the direction from which other hunters will come to try and take that turkey. I study the easiest way to reach that turkey. If getting close to the gobbler can happen on a logging road, a trail or any type of open woods, then that’s how most people will go to that turkey. So, I eliminate those routes to that particular turkey. I’ll look for other ways to reach that turkey to call him. If I have to crawl through a cane thicket, wade through briars, walk through water and/or climb a rock bluff to call to that gobbler from another direction that other hunters haven’t used, then that’s what I’ll do.
Wild turkey
  • I always try to have the sun at my back, so a tom will have to look into the sun, as he comes to me, and I’ll be in the shadows. I’ll back-up against a tree that’s broader than my shoulders to blend-in with the tree trunk.
  • I want to be as quiet as possible and not make any unnatural noises when I’m moving to a turkey. I want to be a “Mohican-Sneaking” or a “Ninja” warrior. I want to move and not be seen, and walk and not be heard.
  • I’ve been asked what calls I use when hunting a bad turkey on public lands. I make turkey calls, I sell turkey calls, and I love to hear myself use those calls. I’m just like every-other turkey hunter who enjoys hearing himself or herself use turkey calls. I realize that every turkey hunter is tempted to use every turkey call he has in his vest each time he hunts turkeys. I am too. However, I realize that an ole tough tom turkey that lives on public lands has heard just about every turkey call turkey hunters have, and he’s heard them far more than he’s ever wanted to hear them.
  • I realize I can’t use all the calls other turkey hunters have used or call as much as they do. I leave all my calls at home, except my Cluck ‘N Purr Pot call that we make at Woodhaven. This call isn’t made for loud yelping or cutting. It’s made strictly for clucking, purring and light tree calls. In my opinion, those are the deadliest calls I make and use.
  • I leave all my other turkey calls at home or in my truck, when I’m hunting an older gobbler on public lands. I’ve learned that if you have all those other calls with you, you may not be able to overcome the temptation to use them. But the Cluck ‘N Purr Pot isn’t the only call I use. I also scratch in the leaves. I want that gobbler to know where I am and acknowledge my call. If he gobbles back to my call, that may be the last time he hears a call from me. You must give a gobbler what he’s accustomed to hearing. If you’ve watched hens in the woods, many times they don’t yelp, purr or cluck hardly at all. But, they will scratch in the leaves looking for something to eat. I want to paint that picture in that gobbler’s mind that I’m a hen in that spot eating, and that I don’t have any boyfriends or girlfriends eating with me.

Tomorrow: How to Hunt More 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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