John's Journal...

Use Your Hands and Knees for Gobbling Turkeys

Day 5: Avid Turkey Hunter Bo Pitman of White Oak Plantation on How Not to Spook Turkeys

Editor’s Note: Three secrets will help you to consistently take turkeys – location, location, location. Probably hunters bag 90 percent of their turkeys by sitting in places turkeys want to walk to anyway. And, calling to these birds may make the turkey decide to walk by that spot that day.

Click for Larger ViewBo Pitman has hunted turkeys all his life and has guided turkey hunters for more than two decades at White Oak Plantation near Tuskegee, Alabama. The hunters who go into the woods with Pitman know they're in for a day of springtime war with the gobblers. Although Pitman uses his calls very sparingly, each season at least 15 hunters will bag toms while hunting with Pitman, and another 15 hunters will have the opportunities to take birds during Alabama's 6-week season.
"When you hunt turkeys, the number-one rule is: don't spook a turkey," Pitman emphasizes. "If you hunt a turkey and he never knows he's being hunted, you can hunt him again the next day. If you spook that gobbler, you may not be able to hunt him any more that season. Click for Larger ViewIf you stand-up, a turkey will spot you. If you're hunched-over, you've cut in half the chances that the bird will see you. If you're on your hands and knees, you've cut your chances of being spotted in half again. If you're on your belly, you've cut the bird's chances of seeing you even more.

"I always take two pairs of gloves with me when I hunt turkeys – a pair of heavy cotton gloves, my 'crawling gloves,' and a pair of thin mesh gloves, my 'sitting gloves.' If you wear only mesh gloves or no gloves when you're crawling through poison ivy, you'll be in trouble. Most people think that when you're crawling, you're trying to crawl up to get a shot on the turkey but that rarely happens. Usually you'll crawl to get into better position to sit-down and wait for the turkey to appear. The key to taking a gobbler is not your crawling ability, but your skill in getting to a place where a turkey wants to be. Often moving another 20-yards from where I've first started calling has made a difference in whether or not my client has taken a bird. Sometimes I'll crawl-up to the edge of a field to see exactly where the turkey I've heard gobbling is standing. I always try to crawl right next to a fence post and then stay so close to the fence post that I look just like it. I've had turkeys spot me before, not know what I am and walk over to investigate. When a gobbler gets that close, he can see your eyes. Click for Larger ViewSo, I just lower my head, close my eyes, never look at the bird and wait for him to walk away. Generally I won't spook him. I don't set-out to get that close to turkeys, but sometimes it just happens.

"I believe you can call one out of every five turkeys to you. To get those other four gobblers, you must earn them by spending hours figuring out where the birds want to go and often crawling there on your hands and knees and perhaps your belly. Never forget that you can't stereotype turkeys. Click for Larger ViewWith some turkeys, you can get away with making some movement, but with others, you can't. Also, a turkey's attitude may change hourly. To consistently bag gobblers, you've got to pursue them and react to their mood changes. Because my hunters and I can hunt all day in Alabama, we may start-off with a turkey in the morning at daylight and at dark still be with that same turkey on a totally different section of land. Regardless of what anyone says, crawling is the tactic most hunters use to take turkeys. Most of the folks who don't crawl on turkeys are just lazy hunters. Now in the South, you do have to be careful not to crawl up on a snake, because that encounter will make you back-up in a hurry."

Check back each day this week for more about "Use Your Hands and Knees for Gobbling Turkeys "

Day 1: What to Consider Before Moving on Turkeys
Day 2: Eddie Salter and David Hale Explain How to Move on Gobblers
Day 3: Gary Sefton Explains His Hands and Knees Relocation Tactics
Day 4: Champion Turkey Caller Preston Pittman on Using a Ben Rodgers Lee Tactic – Stay Low to Move Close to Gobblers
Day 5: Avid Turkey Hunter Bo Pitman of White Oak Plantation on How Not to Spook Turkeys

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Entry 607, Day 5