John's Journal...

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

Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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.

I had a longbeard gobbler screaming out gobbles not 20-yards behind me, and my hunting partner J. Wayne Fears was about 70-yards below me. Fears could see the turkey, but I couldn’t. Finally, the turkey walked out from behind the tree and started walking toward Fears. For some reason, the turkey turned and walked back up the fence, Click to enlargeuntil he was behind me again. This time, I realized there was enough cover between me and the turkey to slowly turn around at the point where the three trees met. I turned to face the turkey and could see the gobbler drifting off to my left out of range. I reached down, picked up my glass call and yelped softly. The longbeard gobbled, strutted and came back to less than 30 yards from the three trees where I was hiding. However, the turkey was so close that I knew I couldn’t put my gun between the trees and get off a shot without the turkey’s seeing me. We’d been calling to this turkey for 10 to 15 minutes, and while I was playing cat and mouse with the turkey behind the tree, three more gobblers were calling and coming straight towards Fears. We were in a spinning vehicle in the middle of an intersection. We didn’t who we were going to hit first, but we knew we’d hit one turkey at some point. My pea brain was calculating and evaluating every hunting-and-shooting scenario it could and trying to guess what the turkey would do next at the same time. To say I was confused would be an understatement.

As I watched my gobbler, I realized he was getting impatient. He’d come to the hen’s calling, walked up and down the fence and to the right and the left side of the fence and still hadn’t seen a hen. When a turkey gobbles and a hen yelps back to him, she’s saying, “Come on over here, big boy. I want to go on a date Click to enlargewith you.” Now, when the gobbler appears where the hen should be able to see him, she goes to him and shows herself. Then they walk off together for a romantic date. On this hunt, the gobbler had heard the hen, came to where she could see him and gobbled to her. And although she’d responded, she wasn’t showing herself. I could see the wheels turning in that gobbler’s mind and thinking, “Something’s not right here. She should be coming to meet me. I’ve looked on both sides of the tree from where she’s calling, and I can’t see her. I’m starting to feel uncomfortable. I think it’s time to leave.” The turkey started to slowly walk away from me to the right. I knew if I hoped to get a shot, I had to take it now.Because the turkey had come in quickly, I hadn’t had the chance to range the distance I was from different bushes and rocks. Even if I’d had the time, I hadn’t set-up to shoot the turkey. Fears was in the position to take the turkey. I had just come along to enjoy calling and watching him bag a gobbler.

Now, here I was, right in the middle of a do-or-die situation with a big longbearded gobbler starting to walk away from me at an unknown distance. “I’m pretty sure he’s within 40 yards,” I said to myself. “I’ve got to take the shot, or I won’t get a shot. And, if I don’t take this turkey, Fears will tell everyone about the day a Click to enlargegobbler walked up behind me within easy shooting distance, and instead of taking the shot, I let the gobbler walk away.” So, I quickly brought the New England Firearms Pardner Pump Turkey Gun to my shoulder, saw the red-light bead between the two green posts of the rear sight, settled the red light at the base of the turkey’s wattles and squeezed the trigger. The gobbler went down. Fears came from his hiding place just as I was getting up to retrieve my bird and said, “How in the world did that turkey get over the fence? I never saw or heard him fly the fence, and I didn’t see him crawl under the fence. I don’t understand how that turkey could get across the fence and behind you, like he did.”

For the next 30 minutes, Fears and I relived and enjoyed the hunt. We realized this would be a memorable hunt for us both. Not only had we hunted together, we’d successfully taken a gobbler together. And Fears was just as excited for me to take the turkey, as I would have been if he’d harvested the gobbler. As we walked back to the pick-up point to meet our guides, I thought to myself, “What a great day.” Our lives had come full circle from the day Fears first promised, “Do what I say, and you’ll be what I am.”

To learn more about the New England Firearms Pardner Pump Turkey Gun, contact Eddie Stevenson at 800-243-9700, or go to To hunt at Live Oak Hunting Lodge with Steven Elmore, call (325) 853-2093, or visit

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 5