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Wily, Wary and Weird Day 3: The Know-It-All and Walking-and-Talking Turkeys

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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. While pursuing gobblers, I’ve also had the good fortune to hunt with and interview some of the greatest turkey hunters in America today. All agree that some gobblers can never be killed legally.

The Know-It-All Gobbler:

I had a hunting buddy. Fred Darty specialized in taking super-smart turkeys, but he had one tom that outsmarted him for several years. “I’m convinced this turkey could recognize the human silhouette,” Darty told me. “Even if a hunter was camouflaged, the turkey seemed to see past it. The ole bird would always come in but stay out of gun range, looking for the hunter. After spotting the hunter, the bird would walk off, not to be seen again. I fooled with that bird for several years until I finally figured out what was required to bag him.

“I decided that if the gobbler recognized the human form and camouflage patterns, the only way to take him would be to eliminate the human form and disguise the camo pattern. So, I buried myself in leaves and laid flat on the ground. I called to the bird from that position. Once again, the Know-It-All Gobbler came in searching for me. I could almost read Tom’s mind as he looked at the base of every tree, and I could almost hear him say to himself, ‘No hunter there.’ As the gobbler walked into where I was, I kept thinking, ‘Ole boy, I’ve finally fooled you.’ Then I bagged that Know-It-All Gobbler, ending years of frustration for me and everyone else I knew.”

The Walking-and-Talking Tom:

There are some turkeys you can’t give away. They frustrate the mind and taunt the spirit to such a degree that if they’re not killed, a sportsman can easily lose his mind. These birds also can bring discord and confusion to an entire community of hunters. “Some turkeys force the hunter to make an either/or decision,” the late Ben Rodgers Lee, 5-time World Champion turkey caller, told me once. “You either can call the turkey, or you can kill the turkey. But more than likely, you won’t be able to do both.”

Such was the case when Lee received a call from a hunting friend in Mississippi who said, “Ben, you have to come over here and kill this turkey. He’s driving me and all of my friends crazy. I’ve learned everything there is to know about this turkey, except how to kill him. Now I’m tired of fooling with him. I’d like you to come here and take him off my hands.”

So, like a gunslinger out of the Old West, Lee packed up his calls and his trusty 12 gauge and headed for Mississippi to bring peace and tranquility back to the life of a man who was on the verge of severe mental problems because of this turkey. When Lee arrived, the man filled him in on the habits of the Walking-and-Talking Tom. “Ben, every time I call this turkey, he flies down, walks across the top of a mountain, and starts moving along the edge of a creek bank. Then, he walks up an old logging road. I’ve tried calling from different directions, and I’ve done everything I know to do to kill this turkey. Nothing seems to work.” Lee laid out a game plan. “You show me the route the turkey usually takes. In the morning, I’ll set up along that route. You go to where you usually call from and start calling. We’ll see if we can’t get that ole bird.” The following morning, the Walking-and-Talking Tom went to that big roost tree in the sky.

Looking for more content? Check out our YouTube channel and watch “Scott Hendry – One of My Favorite Hunts” 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 Fool-Me-Once Turkey

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