John's Journal...

Turkey Talk at Texas’s Live Oak Hunting Lodge with Remington and J. Wayne Fears

Talking to Toms and Taking Toms

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Recently, Eddie Stevenson of Remington invited me to hunt in Eldorado, Texas, at Live Oak Hunting Lodge with Steve Elmore. After finding an abundance of game in Texas 15-years ago, Elmore, originally from Grove Hill, Alabama, my home state, moved to the area and created Live Oak Hunting Lodge where hunters could have the chance to take turkey and deer. I enthusiastically accepted the invitation when I learned I’d have the opportunity to hunt with my mentor and long-time friend, J. Wayne Fears, well-known professional outdoor writer and photographer. This week, I’ll tell you about this memorable hunt.

On my first day of hunting at Live Oak Hunting Lodge, I used the Hunter’s Specialties Field Champion Natural call and heard a turkey gobble in the distance. I knew the turkey had heard my calling, because he’d responded so quickly and walking toward me. I took my time, put the box call down, picked up my Hunter’s Specialties’ Ring Zone glass friction call and gave a few yelps. Although I thought the turkey probably couldn’t hear the yelps, I always start calling to a turkey with soft calls. Then, if the turkey doesn’t answer the soft calls, I’ll give louder calls. But to my Click to enlargesurprise, as soon as I made the first yelp on the Ring Zone, that Rio Grande turkey screamed not 50-yards from me. I put down that call and picked-up Remington’s new New England Firearms (NEF) Pardner Pump Turkey Gun, fully covered with Realtree APG-HD camouflage. One of the purposes of this hunt was to test this new gun under actual hunting conditions. Designed specifically for the turkey hunter, the 22-inch barrel, 12-gauge gun featured a 3-inch magnum that held one in the chamber and three in the magazine, a ventilated rib, a screw-in turkey choke and swivel studs to accommodate a sling. It came equipped with fiber-optic front and rear rifle sights. Although the gun’s suggested retail price was $290, hunters might find it for less. I was shooting Remington Premier Magnum Copper-Plated Buffered Turkey Loads.

I’d barely got my gun up on my knee and to my shoulder before I saw the red head of the gobbler coming down a cattle trail headed toward the stock tank. Although I’d shot with the Pardner Pump at paper targets and knew I had a good pattern out to 40 yards, I’d never shot this gun at a turkey in the field. Prior to calling, I used a Bushnell rangefinder to judge my distance from the cattle trail, the big oak and several other bushes and trees around my stand, trying to indentify what landmarks were at 40 yards. Click to enlargeI knew a big gobbler in full strut could look much closer than his actual location, so rather than guesstimating the range when I prepared for the shot, I preferred to know the distance I was from the gobbler before I squeezed the trigger. Before the gobbler reached my 40-yard bush, I put the red bead of the fiber-optic sight between the two green front-post sights. When the gobbler stepped to within 40 yards of my stand, he began to look for the hen that had been calling to him. Because the terrain was open, the turkey knew he should have seen the hen from where he was standing on the path, and he began to get nervous.

I aimed for his wattles, squeezed the trigger and the gobbler tumbled. I couldn’t believe how hard those Magnum Copper-Plated Buffered Turkey Loads put that gobbler down or the accuracy of the NEF Pardner Pump. I quickly got up, retrieved my gobbler and headed back to the road where my guide Mike was supposed to pick me up. Anytime I take a turkey and know there are other turkeys in the area, I try to get my gobbler and leave theClick to enlarge region as quickly as possible. Then I won’t spook any other turkeys that may be coming into that stand site. If there were four or five more gobblers in that area, they still had a chance to come in and water, and I didn’t want to spook them and prevent another hunter from taking one.

For more information about Bushnell, call (800) 423-3537 or visit To learn more about the New England Firearms Pardner Pump Turkey Gun, contact Eddie Stevenson at 800-243-9700, or visit To learn more about Hunter’s Specialties calls, call (319) 395-0321, or check out To hunt at Live Oak Hunting Lodge with Steven Elmore, call (325) 853-2093, or visit

Tomorrow: Hunting with the Master

Check back each day this week for more about "Turkey Talk at Texas’s Live Oak Hunting Lodge with Remington and J. Wayne Fears"

Day 1: Oops!
Day 2: Talking to Toms and Taking Toms
Day 3: Hunting with the Master
Day 4: Calling a Gobbler for J. Wayne Fears
Day 5: Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place


Entry 508, Day 2