John's Journal...

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

Turkey Hunting Means Agony, Ecstasy and Sometimes Giggles with Larry Norton and Dr. Johnny Lanier

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 aboutClick to enlarge to walk down the aisle. I hope that maybe you can understand and enjoy this addiction to chasing turkeys as much as I have for most of my life.

Everyone has at least one memorable hunt. If you’ve been hunting long enough, you have more of those memorable hunts than a book can hold. I’ve written four books on turkey hunting and contributed chapters to several other books, and I still have enough turkey information and memorable hunts to write about to fill-up at least two more books. There are a number of factors that make a turkey hunt memorable. But on one particular hunt, my friend and guide Larry Norton went above and beyond what’s expected of a turkey hunting guide or a buddy to take a gobbler. We were hunting at Bent Creek Lodge in Jachin, Alabama, one of the most turkey-rich spots on earth. This 30,000 acres homes the toughest turkey there is to take, in my opinion – the eastern wild turkey. The area we hunted was made-up of hills and hollows. When we finally got close to a gobbler, we weClick to enlargere on the side of a hill, and the gobbler gobbled so close that all we could do was sit down. There wasn’t a tree for me to lean against or a bush to hide behind. We just dropped-down quickly and prepared for the shot. “John, you’ve got to have something to lean up against, “Norton told me. “So, I’ll pull-up my knees, and you lean against them, like they’re a tree trunk. I’ll use the diaphragm mouth call I used to locate this gobbler to call him in to where we are. When you see him, he’ll be within range, and you can take the shot.” Click to enlarge

One of the things I’ve learned from my more than four decades of turkey hunting is that gobblers never take into consideration how uncomfortable a hunter can be when he’s sitting and waiting on the tom to appear. As a matter of fact, I’m somewhat certain that most gobblers want hunters to suffer the agony of sitting-still in one spot and not blinking or breathing for an extended period of time, while the turkey struts and drums and goes through his mating ritual. I’d been leaning up against Norton’s knees for what seemed like days but was actually only 30 to 45 minutes before I was finally able to get off the shot. Norton’s legs were cramping as were his arms he used like braces to keep himself sitting upright and his knees folded-up to give me something on which to rest my back.  When I finally took that old gobbler, neither Norton nor I could hardly get up to go and recover the bird, because we’d been in such an awkward position and had been sitting for so long. This hunt defined the term, the agony and the ecstasy.

But not all our turkey hunts end in pain. Some memorable turkey hunts end with giggles. And John Lanier, owner of Bent Creek Lodge, tells us in the video below about the most-memorable and funniest turkey hunts he’s ever had.

Today's Turkey Hunting Video Clip

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 5