John's Journal...

How to Hunt Beat-Up Gobblers

Day 4: Hunting High Noon Gobblers and Beat Up Toms with the Late Ben Rodgers Lee

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.

High-Noon Gobblers:

Click for Larger ViewMost turkeys can pattern hunters better than the hunters can pattern the turkeys. A beat-up gobbler will assume that a hunter has made the call he hears before first light. Oftentimes, these gobblers will wait to see the hens before they'll fly-off the roost. However, in the middle of the day, they rarely if ever hear any turkey hunters calling to them. "Hunting turkeys during lunchtime can work great on field gobblers," the late Ben Rodgers Lee of Coffeeville, Alabama, a world-famous turkey hunter and caller, told me once. "These birds will stay-out in the middle of the field, breed hens and eat bugs and dust, until the heat of the sun drives them out of the fields and into the shelter of the shade. Watch, and notice the direction the turkey goes when he leaves the field. Get ahead of the gobbler, take a stand in the shade, and call softly. You want that big boy to mistake you for a hen looking for a date. Most of the time, that high-noon gobbler will come in to visit you, and you can take him home for lunch."

Beat-Up Gobblers:

Click for Larger ViewTo take a beat-up gobbler, hunt him, and don't call to him. Hunt this gobbler like you'll hunt a deer instead of a turkey. For instance, you know that hunting a trophy buck during the rut is the best way to see a nice buck. You also will realize that you can find that buck where he goes to meet his does to breed. The same is true of the wild turkey. Although turkeys don't make scrapes like deer do, they do have strut zones where they go to meet their hens like bucks have scrapes where they go to meet their does. "Find those strut zones, and go to them at first light," Lee advised. "Plan to sit there until the gobblers show-up, just like you'd sit on a deer stand waiting on a deer. Strut zones that turkeys frequent almost every day provide the best places to find and take a gobbler. You'll have a hard time keeping your hand off the turkey call. But remember, if you call to a bad gobbler, you probably won't take him."

Tomorrow: Hung-Up Turkeys with Larry Norton

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 4