John's Journal...

How to Hunt Beat-Up Gobblers

Day 2: Why Ben Rodgers Lee Thought You Should Nap on Gobblers

Editor’s Note: In the movie “A River Runs Through It,” we see that time passes, people are born, live and die, but the river runs through all their lives, and the fishing remains the same. The same enduring qualities that this movie portrays also are true about turkey hunting. The truth and wisdom about turkey hunting lives on long after the writers and the great turkey hunters have gone to the eternal roost tree in the sky. If you can find a mentor to teach you the wisdom of turkey hunting, that knowledge can endure for future generations to learn and enjoy. I’ve been extremely fortunate throughout 40 years of being an outdoor writer to have hunted with some of the greatest turkey hunters of their day. This week you’ll read some of the turkey-hunting wisdom of the ages from the hunters who are on the cutting edge of the great wild turkey’s reintroduction throughout the country. These men have lived in the glory days when turkey hunting was tough, and the people who hunted them were just as tough. The knowledge they’ve acquired has come from the hundreds of turkeys that each of them has hunted and guided hunters to in the springtime.

Click for Larger ViewThe late Ben Rodgers Lee of Coffeeville, Alabama, probably the most-well-known turkey caller and turkey hunter ever, told me that if I hunted turkeys long enough and hard enough, I’d know that some gobblers wouldn’t come quickly to my calling, because everyone else had beat them up. Then I’d get worn-out from hunting them and have to take a nap in the woods. Lee explained, "You can enjoy a nap in the woods, especially if you know how to nap for gobblers. When you hunt a beat-up turkey, realize that he won't come-in quickly to your calling. Click for Larger ViewTherefore, once you locate this gobbler in the woods and sit-down to call him, you may as well lean-up against a tree, lay your shotgun across your lap and take a nap (but don't snore). Often you’ll wake-up to the sound of drumming, or you’ll hear a turkey walking in the leaves in front of you. When I nap in the woods and think I hear a longbeard in front of me, I make sure I wake-up totally before I ever open my eyes. Then I only open one eye and look for the gobbler. If I don't see the gobbler, I’ll close that eye and go back to sleep quickly. If I do spot the gobbler, I’ll open the other eye to confirm what the first eye has seen. If the turkey walks right in front of me at close range, I'll do nothing, because the turkey hasn't spotted me. When he steps behind a tree and can't see me or turns his back to me and fans his tail to strut, I'll bring my gun up and prepare for the shot. The instant I see the turkey's head clearly, I’ll squeeze the trigger. I've taken several longbearded turkeys using this technique, and I've also enjoyed many good naps in the woods."

Tomorrow: Drive ‘Em Nuts Gobblers with the Late Ben Rodgers Lee

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Hunt Beat-Up Gobblers "

Day 1: The Late Ben Rodgers Lee on How to Take Overhunted Turkeys
Day 2: Why Ben Rodgers Lee Thought You Should Nap on Gobblers
Day 3: Drive 'Em Nuts Gobblers with the Late Ben Rodgers Lee
Day 4: Hunting High Noon Gobblers and Beat Up Toms with the Late Ben Rodgers Lee
Day 5: Hung-Up Turkeys with Larry Norton

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Entry 612, Day 2