John's Journal...

Turkey Hunting Ain’t Just About Taking Turkeys

Day 3: Bo Pitman and John E. Phillips Hunt a Naked Gobbler

Editor’s Note: Do you consider fooling a longbeard and bringing him within gun range the essence of turkey hunting? Or, does turkey hunting have an intrinsic value to you that goes beyond your ability to harvest a gobbler every spring and fall? In my world of turkey hunting, I view my turkey-hunting experiences as part of a continuing-education program. My goal in life is not only to take turkeys, but rather to learn all I can about how to take turkeys and to create memories that last much longer than feathers and meat do.

Click for Larger ViewBo Pitman, the lodge manager of White Oak Plantation in Tuskegee, Alabama, and I felt as naked as babies on their birthdays as we sat in the middle of a clay-and-gravel road on the edge of open woods with a strutting and gobbling turkey less than 20-yards away. During the two days that we’d hunted, we worked several gobblers. But we’d never had an opportunity for a shot. Click for Larger ViewOn our way to return to the lodge, Pitman said, “Let me yelp one more time before we leave.” When Pitman yelped, a turkey gobbled so close and so loud that he nearly blew-off our hats. We both dropped to our knees instantly. As I looked for a place to move to and hide, Pitman whispered, “Get your gun on your knee; we don’t have time to find cover. That turkey is right on top of us.” We sat motionless in the bare road, while the big gobbler drummed and strutted just out of sight, over the lip of a hill no more than 10- to 15-yards away. “I’m going to give him a little soft yelp,” Pitman said under his breath. “Be ready to shoot when you see him, because when he spots us on this road, he’s gone.”

Click for Larger ViewI’d had my gun resting on my knee for a good 10 or 15 minutes before Pitman decided to call. Hunting with my CVA Trapper shotgun, a blackpowder gun with a full choke screwed into the muzzle, I quietly cocked the hammer, got my cheek on the stock and prepared for the shot. The gobbler stepped-up to the edge of the bank not 15 steps from me, but I didn’t fire. “Shoot the turkey, John,” Click for Larger ViewPitman demanded in a whisper. “I can’t,” I mumbled back. The turkey’s head and neck had lined-up perfectly with a young pine tree about 4 inches in diameter. I could see the gobbler’s beard, his spurs, his snood and all of his back and tail. However, I couldn’t see his head, his eyes, his neck and his wattles – definitely a no-shot situation.

Tomorrow: Bo Pitman and John E. Phillips Hunt a Naked Gobbler, Part II

Check back each day this week for more about "Turkey Hunting Ain’t Just About Taking Turkeys "

Day 1: South Dakota’s Howling Gobblers Create Memories for Brad Harris and John E. Phillips
Day 2: Mark Drury and John E. Phillips Hunt a Drowned Gobbler in a Raging Rainstorm
Day 3: Bo Pitman and John E. Phillips Hunt a Naked Gobbler
Day 4: Bo Pitman and John E. Phillips Hunt a Naked Gobbler, Part II
Day 5: Eddie Salter and John E. Phillips Hear the Words, “Daddy, You Killed My Turkey”

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Entry 606, Day 3