John's Journal...

Hunting Turkeys For the Love of the Addiction with John E. Phillips

Pulling a Gobbler That’s Leaving Back at White Oak Plantation with Joe Smith

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: I was bitten by the turkey bug more than 45-years ago, and the addiction was so strong that I not only couldn’t shake it, I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to try. I still feel the same way. There’s a certain magic whether you take the turkey or the turkey tricks you that is every bit as alluring as the sirens’ call to the Greek sailors in the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey.” Each spring, I get as giddy as a child on Christmas Eve and as excited as a bride about to walk down the aisle. I hope that maybe you can understand and enClick to enlargejoy this addiction to chasing turkeys as much as I have for most of my life.

Two of my favorite turkey-hunting partners are Joe Smith of Tuskegee, Alabama, and Joe Hudson, my son-in-law. Every year, Robert and Hilda Pitman at White Oak Plantation invite my son-in-law and me to hunt with them, and every year, Joe Hudson and I get our turkeys. The first morning of our hunt, Smith guided Hudson to four longbeards. However, because the first longbeard walked straight to Hudson, he didn’t have an opportunity to bring-up his gun to get off the shot without spooking all of the birds. So, he let the birds keep walking. That night at dinner, I suggested that Joe and Joe go to the spot where I’d hunted earlier, since I’d heard five turkeys gobble before I took the turkey I’d brought home to lunch.

The next morning, Smith set-up Hudson in a natural blind on the edge of a field, right behind where the turkeys had roosted on the previous morning. Smith and I climbed into a nearby elevated deer stand and set-up to call. Smith, who’s stingy with his calling, is an excellent turkey caller and hunter. However, I like to call, toClick to enlargeo. To get the turkeys cranked-up and to try to get them to start talking, we double-called. Smith used a wooden box call, and I used the Hunter’s Specialties’ Ring Zone friction call, because the turkeys had answered it readily the morning before. Once again, the turkeys started tree-calling, and just before first light, the hens began to cluck and purr. As the sun started to rise, they really yelped loudly. We heard three-different gobblers answer the hens, and one gobbler flew off the roost right to the hens, as another gobbler was coming to the flock. The first gobbler took the hens out of hearing, but the second gobbler stayed in our area and answered Smith’s calling each time he stroked the lid of his turkey box over the edge of the caller. This bird was a yo-yo gobbler. He’d come almost to the edge of the field and then turn off and walk into the woods. For about 1-1/2-hours, this gobbler yo-yoed between the edge of the field and about 200- to 300-yards deep into the woods.Click to enlarge

Finally, at about 8:30 am or 9:00 am, when the gobbler was at the furthest end of his yo-yo route, I told Smith, “That turkey’s going to leave us, unless we really put some stuff on him.” So, Smith started calling aggressively with his box call, while I called on the Ring Zone at the same time. We were trying to imitate two-different hens calling to the same gobbler, and this type of calling really got the gobbler’s attention. He came on the quick step back to the edge of the field. But this time, instead of stopping before he reached the field, the gobbler stood on the edge of the field, surveyed the field and then walked out into the field strutting and drumming. “The bird’s walking away from Joe,” Smith whispered. “Put your call out the back of this stand, and start calling away from the gobbler. Then you can try to pull him in front of Joe Hudson.” The trick worked, and we heard Hudson’s Remington 12-gauge, 3-inch magnum bark. The turkey crumpled. But rather than telling you the rest of the story, watch the video below, and let Joe Hudson and Joe Smith tell you the rest.

Today's Video Clip

Tomorrow: A Turkey Named Ole Slick and Joe Smith’s Song That Lasts a Lifetime and More

Check back each day this week for more about "Hunting Turkeys For the Love of the Addiction with John E. Phillips"

Day 1: Turkey Hunting Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This
Day 2: Pulling a Gobbler That’s Leaving Back at White Oak Plantation with Joe Smith
Day 3: A Turkey Named Ole Slick and Joe Smith’s Song That Lasts a Lifetime and More
Day 4: How to Turkey Hunt after the Shot with David Hale, Preston Pittman and Will Primos
Day 5: Turkey Hunting Means Agony, Ecstasy and Sometimes Giggles with Larry Norton and Dr. Johnny Lanier


Entry 555, Day 2