John's Journal...

Taking Early-Season Mississippi Turkeys with Preston Pittman

Follow the Flock with the Gobbler

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 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. Click to enlarge

Question: Preston, you had another good hunt at Lifetime Hunts recently. Tell me about it.
Pittman: There was a turkey gobbling from a tree just at daylight. I’d set out a decoy and began giving this turkey some tree calls. Hens tree-called back to me. Then suddenly, a hen pitched out of a tree and flew right to our location, landing in a tree not 10 yards from where I sat. She looked down at the decoy for about 10 minutes, flew right back and lit on the ground below the tree where the tom was gobbling. After awhile, the hens flew down intotwo-different groups. One group came to us and began to feed and preen their feathers. The other group flew to the gobbler and took him away from us. I’ve seen this happen before.

The group of hens that came to us was young hens, and the old hens flew to the gobbler taking him off. When that happens, you have to get-up and move to get ahead of the flock with the gobbler in it. You don’t want to stay with a flock of hens that doesn’t have a gobbler with it. Always try to call-in the flock of hens with the gobbler. Too, I learned on this hunt from checking with my turkey-hunting buddies that none of us saw turkeys out in the fields. The gobbler we took had a craw full of acorns. Because we had a good mast crop of acorns this year, the turkeys remained in the woods eating acorns, rather Click to enlargetClick to enlargehan moving-out into the fields feeding-on young grass and insects during the early season. I found that in this area, the gobblers stayed in the woods longer than usual. So, to take a turkey, hunt him in the woods and not the fields, especially during the early part of the season.

Question: What’s another problem you’ve dealt with at this time of year?
Pittman: Because there’d been so much rain at Lifetime Hunts, on this hunt, we had to deal with flooded timber. Oftentimes when you have flooded areas to hunt, the turkey will gobble on one side of flooded timber, while you’re on the other side. To solve this problem, take some type of johnboat turkey hunting with you to reach the turkeys the water prevents you from reaching. Or, if the turkeys aren’t more than 30- or 40-yards away from you, separated by water, call the turkeys to the edge of the water where you can get a shot. If you down the turkeys, you can wade the water and retrieve the birds. The best way to take a turkey on the other side of the water is to get wet, wade the water, get close to the turkey and then start calling to him. Early-season hunting presents several unique problems for the turkey hunter, but that’s what makes turkey hunting so much fun, and why I love it.

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

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 5