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Wily, Wary and Weird Day 4: The Fool-Me-Once 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. 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.

My father felt learning to hunt and fish was important. He took my brother Archie and me into the woods and on the water every chance. We spent many enjoyable days afield. When my son John Jr. – JJ – was about 10 years old, I wanted to share my love of outdoor sports. JJ and I used a lease we shared with other sportsmen for his first turkey hunt. On the morning of this particular hunt, several other hunters were in camp, so we left early for the woods.

At first light, we heard a turkey gobble and went to him. Taking a stand about 75 yards from the bird, I gave a few tree calls, and the turkey answered. We waited awhile for the turkey to fly down. I made a fly-down cackle, and the tom gobbled again. Then, the turkey began to gobble on his own. So, I whispered to JJ, who was sitting between my legs, “Get your gun on your knee, son. We’re going to kill this turkey.”

However, for about 45 minutes, the turkey gobbled but wouldn’t come any closer. Then I heard another hunter calling to this same turkey. “Come on, son,” I told JJ. We’ll move somewhere else and try to call the turkey in from another direction. Then either the other hunter will bag the bird, or we will.”

We changed locations and once more called the gobbler. The turkey was just as responsive to the calling as earlier and gobbled frequently. But still, he wouldn’t walk into the area where we were calling. Finally, after about 2 1/2 hours, the turkey strolled off and finally gobbled again, but almost out of our hearing range. Confused and frustrated, JJ and I returned to camp.

Shortly, another hunter came in and asked if we had been trying to call a turkey down by the creek. When I said we had, this hunter said he was the other caller attempting to work the same bird and told me, “I didn’t think either one of us had much of a chance of bagging that turkey though, because I shot at him right there last week.” Then I understood why the gobbler wouldn’t come to us. Turkeys avoid places where they’ve been shot at previously. And, no amount of calling will bring a bird into where he doesn’t want to go.

Looking for more content? Check out our YouTube channel and watch “Bob Long on How and Why to Change Positions to Bag a Gobbler” 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 Last-Chance and Phantom Turkeys

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