John's Journal...

Wily, Wary and Just Plain Weird – The Turkey Gobbler Hall of Fame

Day 3: The Walking and Talking Tom Turkey with the Late Ben Rodgers Lee

Editor’s Note: Every gobbler is a challenge, but some are candidates for the Hall of Fame. Gobblers are individuals. Although many will do what they’re supposed to do, when and the way they are supposed to do it, some turkeys become so expert at eluding the hunter they seem almost supernatural. But that’s what I enjoy about the sport of turkey hunting – you never know what’s going to happen, and you’re playing against an opponent on his turf that’s often as smart if not smarter than you are. While pursuing toms, I’ve also had the good fortune to hunt with and interview some of the greatest turkey hunters in America today. All agree there are some gobblers that never can be killed legally. As Tom Kelley, outdoor humorist and turkey-hunting expert says, “The only surefire way I know of to kill a turkey is to catch his leg in a steel trap and beat his brains out with a pick handle.” Let’s look at some of the hunter-dodging toms; birds that seem invincible and will live in the annals of turkey-hunting history.

Click for Larger ViewThere are some turkeys you can’t give away. They frustrate the mind and taunt the spirit to such a degree that if they’re not taken, a sportsman easily can lose his mind. These birds also can bring discord and confusion to an entire community of hunters.

“Some turkeys force the hunter to make an either-or decision,” the late Ben Rodgers Lee told me when we hunted together some years ago. “You either can call the turkey, or you can kill the turkey. But more than likely you won’t be able to do both” Such was the case when Lee received a call from a hunting friend in Mississippi who said, Click for Larger View“Ben, you have to come over here and kill this turkey. He’s driving me and all of my friends crazy. I’ve learned everything there is to know about this turkey, except how to kill him. Now I’m tired of fooling with him. I’d like for you to come over here and take him off my hands.”

So, like a gunslinger out of the Old West, Lee packed-up his calls and his trusty 12 gauge and headed for Mississippi to bring peace and tranquility back to the life of a man who was on the verge of severe mental problems because of this turkey. Click for Larger ViewWhen Lee arrived, the man filled him in on the habits of the Walking and Talking Tom. “Ben, every time I call this turkey, he flies-down, walks across the top of a mountain, and starts moving along the edge of a creek bank. Then he walks-up an old logging road. I’ve tried calling from different directions, and I’ve done everything I know to do to kill this turkey. Nothing seems to work.” Lee laid-out a game plan. “You show me the route the turkey usually takes. click for Larger ViewIn the morning, I’ll go in and set-up along that route. You go to where you usually call from and start calling. We’ll see if we can’t get that old bird.” The following morning the Walking and Talking Tom went to that big roost tree in the sky.

Tomorrow: The Fool-Me-Once Turkey and Eddie Salter’s Last Chance Gobbler

Check back each day this week for more about "Wily, Wary and Just Plain Weird – The Turkey Gobbler Hall of Fame "

Day 1: Hunting the Cow Pasture Turkey with Seab Hicks
Day 2: The Late Billy Maccoy’s Swamp Wizard and Fred Darty’s Know-It-All Gobbler
Day 3: The Walking and Talking Tom Turkey with the Late Ben Rodgers Lee
Day 4: The Fool-Me-Once Turkey and Eddie Salter’s Last Chance Gobbler
Day 5: Allen Jenkins’ Phantom Gobbler

ALL CONTENT PROTECTED UNDER THE DIGITAL MILLENIUM COPYRIGHT ACT. Content theft, either printed or electronic is a federal offense.


Entry 601, Day 3