John's Journal...

Taking Early-Season Mississippi Turkeys with Preston Pittman

Close the Deal When a Gobbler’s With Hens

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: In mid-March, I hunted with Preston Pittman of Pickens, Mississippi, at Lifetime Hunts, LLC, (601-859-8313; located at Brookson Plantation in Macon, Mississippi. As most of you know, at the first of turkey season, the gobblers oftentimes are still bunched-up and/or with hens. This week, Preston Pittman, the creator of Preston Pittman Game Calls (601-544-8090, and a World Champion turkey caller, will tell us how to solve the problems resulting from henned-up gobblers, as well as explain how to get your early-season bird.

Question: Preston, yesterday you told us that when a gobbler’s with hens thatClick to enlarge won’t come to you from the roost, you need to wait 2 or 3 hours, return to the roost tree and start calling to the hens. On your last hunt at Lifetime Hunts, you and Danny Grove, the host of “No Fences Outdoors,” had a flock of hens coming to you. You believed there was a gobbler in the flock. What happened next?
Pittman: A calling war started between me and the boss hen. Every time I’d call, she’d call before I was finished, and then I’d start calling before she’d finished her call. This type of calling really irritates a boss hen. She’s like a mama with a house full of kids, saying “Don’t you dare talk when I’m talking, or I’ll whack you.” When I called to her before she’d finished talking, it really irritated her. Oftentimes a bossClick to enlarge hen like this will try to come to where I am to put me in my place and will bring the flock with her.

When I got back to the roost tree, I realized I’d left my diaphragm turkey call on the ground where I’d been calling. So, I used my natural voice to call. Although I’ve won the World Natural Voice Championship before, I prefer to use my Pittman diaphragm call. Fortunately, I was able to mimic the ole hen’s call with my natural voice. Over the years, I’ve learned that the more you sound like the hen talking to you, the madder she gets, and the more likely she’ll come to you. Imagine telling your child to turn off the TV, and go study, and then he turns around and mimics you with the same inflection in his voice. You may move-in toward him to yell. That’s exactly what a boss hen does when you mimic her. If she’s got a whiny voice, use a call with a whine in it. If her yelp is crystal clear, call back to her with a crystal-clear yelp. If her voice is raspy, talk back to her with a raspy call. Click to enlarge

When I began calling to this hen, she came to me. Out in front of the boss hen, five, 2-year old gobblers came running toward us. I knew there was a big boss gobbler in the flock because none of the 2-year-olds were gobbling. With five mature gobblers coming straight toward us, I whispered to Danny Grove, “Pick out one, and take him.” He did. Before the shot, I saw seven or nine hens behind the gobblers. I’d put a decoy in front of myself and Danny, and when those 2-year-old gobblers saw that decoy, they came running, hoping to breed the decoy before the old gobbler reached her.

Question: How far away was the big gobbler from the rest of the flock?
Pittman: When I spotted the flock, the gobblers were about 60-yards away from us. Then big gobbler and the hens he was courting were approximately 60-yards behind the main flock.

Question: Preston, why was the flock positioned this way with the hens and the 2-year-old gobblers walking together and the big gobbler and a couple of hens behind the main flock?
Pittman: The 2-year-old gobblers are much like teenage boys travelling with the flock. When they hear an excited hen ready to breed, they hope to reach her before the boss gobbler does. If the old gobbler had come in quickly, the 2-year-old gobblers would have spread out, moved away from me and let the dominant gobbler come in to breed.

Contact the sponsors of this turkey hunt to learn more: Mississippi Department of Tourism (601-358-3603,; Longleaf Camo (1-866-751-2266,; Vicious Fishing Line (1-866- 645-0024,

Tomorrow: Call the Boss Lady

Check back each day this week for more about "Taking Early-Season Mississippi Turkeys with Preston Pittman"

Day 1: Get Them Coming
Day 2: Close the Deal When a Gobbler’s With Hens
Day 3: Call the Boss Lady
Day 4: Wise-Up to an Old Gobbler’s Ways
Day 5: Follow the Flock with the Gobbler


Entry 502, Day 2