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

“Elk You Know Little About” Day 1: Hunting Roosevelt Elk

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Wily, Wary and Weird Day 5: The Last-Chance and Phantom 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 Last-Chance Tom with Eddie Salter:

My friend, Eddie Salter, and I had been hunting hard for 3 days. Although we had seen three jakes, we hadn’t even heard a longbeard, let alone had one in our gun sights. Time was running out as I had to leave for home within the next few hours. While driving through the countryside looking for turkeys, Salter spotted a big gobbler with a jake and some hens in the middle of a field. “You want to try for him, John?” Salter asked. “We might as well,” I said. “Because this is our last chance before I leave.”

We slipped along the edge of the woods and watched the turkey through binoculars. The tom was 200 yards away in a clean pasture. I knew our chances of taking this bird fell between slim and none. But fate intervened before we could even set up and attempt to call the bird. Someone on the other side of the field fired a shotgun. I don’t know whether they were shooting at the turkey or some other critter, but the gobbler rose straight up from the ground like a Huey helicopter, turned in midair, and flew straight for where Salter and I were standing next to a pine tree. “I don’t believe this,” I whispered as the big tom shortened the distance between us. When the old gobbler was straight overhead, I squeezed the trigger on my 12 gauge, and the bird folded.

The Phantom Gobbler:

Allen Jenkins, who once owned M.L. Lynch Game Calls, had invited me to hunt elusive white gobblers on the property of his friend, J. C. Brown. Apparently, a gene in this Mississippi flock occasionally produced albino turkeys. “We’ve seen white hens on J. C.’s place before, but these three are the first white gobblers we’ve ever spotted,” Jenkins said. Brown had protected these ghostly-white phantoms while they were jakes until they became 2-year-olds. Although Brown and Jenkins had called to the birds when they were jakes, they had chosen not to bag the phantoms until they were mature birds. The plan was for Brown and I to try taking one of the birds when the gobblers were 2-years old. We would leave the third gobbler.

We hunted the white gobblers the first morning but didn’t see them. But the second morning, we found them feeding in a field. “There are only two birds,” Brown said. “There should be three, but I’ve never seen them when all three gobblers were not together. Someone must have killed one of the birds. I don’t want to take the remaining white gobblers until I find out what happened to the third turkey.”

That afternoon, the game warden called Brown’s home and reported that an adjacent landowner had taken one of the white gobblers when the bird crossed Brown’s property line. The killing of one of the albinos upset Brown so much that he asked us not to take either of the other two white birds. Later, we could call them and watch them for about 45 minutes. Those white gobblers were the most unusual wild turkeys I had ever seen.

Hunting the wild turkey is a challenge but also far more. Toms easily taken are soon forgotten, but those wood wizards, the wily birds with the long beards and sharp spurs, the ones with mystical, elusive powers that can drive hunters insane, are the ones we all remember. They are the masters of the art of dodging hunters.

Looking for more content? Check out our YouTube channel and watch “Doug Shipp – the Great Turkey Race” 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.


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