John's Journal...

Unorthodox Tactics for Desperate Turkey Hunters

Day 3: Hunting Booger Creek Bottom Gobblers Can Test Your Sanity

Editor’s Note: The classical ritual of the turkey hunt is that of a skillful hunter artfully deceiving the gobbler to make him come into range with calling skills alone. But the sport of turkey hunting doesn’t always go that way. And, rare is the hunter, who’s still without a turkey after weeks of frustration, who is above trying some unorthodox tactics. The names have been changed this week to protect the “guilty.”

Click for Larger ViewI’ve seen smart old woods barons like the Hushed-Mouth Gobbler nearly drive men insane, and the Booger Creek Bottom Gobbler was such a bird. He was the sole property of James Steele. James had found the bird 3-years earlier, 4-miles back on Booger Creek. Click for Larger ViewEach season, James would hunt the bird, and every year, fate would deal the Booger Creek Bottom Gobbler the winning hand. James was a top-notch turkey caller and hunter, but the old bird was better.
“That turkey was a burr under my saddle,” James told me. “All year long, I planned new tactics to test on that ole tom. Then, each season the bird would show-up just out of gun range, or he would see me and run-off, or stop calling, or get with a hen before I could get him within killing distance. The situation got so bad that I began to dream about that turkey.”

Finally one fateful day during the later part of turkey season, James found the solution to his problem. “A storm was threatening that morning. Every time the thunder clapped, I’d hear another sound. The Booger Creek Bottom bird would begin to gobble. As the rain poured-down, I listened every time the thunder rolled, and that gobbler would answer. He was gobbling more during that thunderstorm than he had gobbled in his entire natural life. ‘It’s now or never,’ I told myself. ‘I don’t care what the morals of this situation are. If I can get close enough to that turkey, I’m going to bag him.’”

The rain came down in bucketsful, the thunder boomed, and James crept closer and closer to his nemesis’ roost tree. Although already 1-1/2- hours late to work, James knew that unless he took this gobbler, he very well might lose his sanity. Click for Larger ViewWith the loud cracking sounds of thunder overhead, a bolt of neon-colored light lit-up the sky as James pulled the trigger. The Booger Creek Bottom Gobbler went-out in a blaze of celestial glory. Peace and sanity once again graced the Steele household. “I’m not really proud of the way I had to take him,” James said later. “But at that point in my life, I knew it was either him or me. We had a personal war going-on, and I was losing drastically. Click for Larger ViewSo, I felt to save my sanity I had to take whatever advantages I could find to down that gobbler. The thunder presented that opportunity.”

To learn more about hunting tough toms, buy John E. Phillips’ book, “PhD Gobblers,” containing information from top turkey hunters, including Eddie Salter, Alex Rutledge, Matt Morrett, Rick White and others, for your Kindle for only $2.99 at

Tomorrow: The Challenge of Hunting the Hickory Ridge Runner Gobbler


Check back each day this week for more about "Unorthodox Tactics for Desperate Turkey Hunters "

Day 1: Learn about Owling for Gobblers
Day 2: Taking a Hush-Mouthed Gobbler
Day 3: Hunting Booger Creek Bottom Gobblers Can Test Your Sanity
Day 4: The Challenge of Hunting the Hickory Ridge Runner Gobbler
Day 5: The Downfall of the Ole Eagle Eye Gobbler

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Entry 654, Day 3