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Wily, Wary and Weird Day 2: The Swamp Wizard Turkey

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Editor’s Note: Every gobbler is a challenge, but some are candidates for the Turkey Hall of Fame. Gobblers are individuals. Although many will do what they’re supposed to, when and how they are supposed to do it, some turkeys become so expert at eluding the hunter that they seem almost supernatural. These toms have advanced degrees in hunter dodging, and in my lifetime, I’ve met my share of these birds. But that’s what I enjoy about turkey hunting – you never know what will happen, and you’re playing against an opponent that, on his turf, is often as smart, if not smarter, than you are. As Tom Kelley, outdoor humorist, and turkey-hunting expert, says, “The only surefire way I know of to kill a turkey is to catch his leg in a steel trap and beat his brains out with a pick handle.” Let’s look at some hunter-dodging toms – birds that seemed invincible and will live in the annals of turkey-hunting history.

If a hunter ever begins to believe bagging a turkey is easy, some bird will surely show him the error of his ways. The late Billy Macoy and I were hunting together one morning when an old bird truly tried our patience. I enjoy hunting with a partner where one sportsman does the calling while the other does the gunning. Macoy was to call on this particular morning, and I was to shoot. The hunt started great, and we were confident it would be an easy, quick day of turkey taking. We heard the tom gobble and went to him. We crossed a waist-deep swamp creek and set up in a grove of palmettos. About 100 yards away, the bird had a clear trail to come to us and was extremely responsive to our calls. So, I felt confident we’d have a bird in our bag within 15 minutes.

Sitting about 15 yards in front of Macoy with a gun on the knee, I faced in the direction the bird should come. Within 5 minutes after we heard the gobbler fly off the roost, I heard him drumming and strutting in front of me, just behind some palmettos. However, instead of coming straight in, the bird walked off to my left and strutted and drummed behind a screen of palmettos less than 20 yards away. Every 2 or 3 minutes, I saw his head dart through an opening in the palmettos. But I decided not to take the bird unless I had a clean shot.

This mature turkey was patient. He knew a hen should come around those palmettos if she expected to be bred. I wasn’t patient. I wanted the turkey to step clear of the bushes. For an hour and 20 minutes, it was a Mexican standoff. Macoy called, and the turkey gobbled. But the bird never came from behind the screen of palmettos so that I could have a clean shot. Finally, with my nerves shattered and my patience at an end, Macoy changed calls and gave a slight yelp. The tom stepped before the screen and stuck his head straight up. The hunt was over. I was soaking wet with sweat from excitement and anticipation, but the turkey was in our bag.

Looking for more content? Check out our YouTube channel and watch “Why Hire a Teaching Guide” by John E. Phillips.

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.


Tomorrow: The Know-It-All and Walking-and-Talking Turkeys

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