John's Journal...

Taking Early-Season Mississippi Turkeys with Preston Pittman

Wise-Up to an Old Gobbler’s Ways

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: In mid-March, we 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 the season, the gobblers oftentimes are still bunched-up and/or with hens. This week, Pittman, the creator of Pittman Game Calls 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, we were talking about the flock of turkeys you called in last week and you said the older gobbler stayed behind the 2-year-old gobblers and the hens as the flock moved through the woods. Why did the older gobbler stay in the back of the flock?Click to enlarge
Pittman: Remember, the boss gobbler is the most-highly-educated turkey in the flock. He’s survived several seasons and understands that during breeding season, there’s danger in the woods. He probably has heard a turkey call before. Most importantly, he understands the dynamic of the flock. When a new hen challenges the dominant hen of the flock, and the dominant hen goes toward that challenger, the dominant hen either runs off the other hen or pulls that new hen into the flock. There’s no reason for that dominant gobbler to get out in front of his harem.

Too, when a harem of hens moves through the woods, they’re looking and listening for danger. That dominant gobbler has his scouts out in front of him to make sure he’s not shot or caught and killed by a Click to enlargepredator. Oftentimes you’ll a mature gobbler stop 60- or 70-yards away from where you’re calling. He’ll stand there with his hens, and he may or may not gobble, but he won’t come into that new hen. Instead, he’ll wait for her to join the flock. When you see a gobbler like this, you know he’s got long spurs and a longbeard, and he’s highly educated. He’ll be really tough to take home to supper.

Two-year-old gobblers haven’t learned enough to wait and let the boss hen and the other hens in the flock move in to check out this new lady. Click to enlargeThey think they’ve found a young hen ready to breed, so they’ll throw caution to the wind to see who can reach her first. These gobblers are the ones that will ride home in the back of someone’s pick-up truck every season.

Contact the sponsors of this turkey hunt to learn more: Mississippi Department of Tourism (1-866-SEE-MISS,, Longleaf Camo (1-866-751-2266,, Vicious Fishing Line (1-866- 645-0024, and Pittman (601-544-8090,

Tomorrow: Follow the Flock with the Gobbler

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 4