John's Journal...

Unorthodox Tactics for Desperate Turkey Hunters

Day 4: The Challenge of Hunting the Hickory Ridge Runner Gobbler

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 ViewThe Booger Creek Bottom Gobbler was certainly a tough old tom, but the Hickory Ridge Runner presented a different set of problems for my friends, Ben and Bob. “Everybody had fooled with that turkey,” Ben told me. “He had been shot-at, bushwhacked, called-to and ambushed so-many times that most folks were convinced that he would die of old age. I hunted the turkey for 2 years, before I finally figured-out how to kill him. Every time I called, the turkey would run away from me. I’d circle and try and call, but he would run the opposite way. Click for Larger ViewI’d call; then I’d circle to try and get in front of him and not call, hoping to ambush him. But that tactic never worked either. Finally, I noticed one unusual trait the Hickory Ridge Runner had. He always ran back the way from which he’d come. I guess he thought that there was no danger where he had just left. With this knowledge, I got with my hunting buddy, Bob, and mapped-out our strategy.

“I’ll call to the bird when he gobbles in the morning,” I told Bob. “I know as soon as he hears me yelp, he’s going to be leaving the country the opposite way. So, if I come up the ridge and call from the top of the ridge 50-yards from him, he should run-down the top of the ridge away from me. Now, Bob you’ll be 150 yards on the opposite end of the ridge from me and the turkey. If he doesn’t see you, you should get a shot. If he does notice you and starts to move-off to the right or the left, stand-up, and run at him. That should make him come back to me.”

The game plan was made. The hunters believed they might yo-yo that ole gobbler into their gun sights. The next morning each hunter took his place and waited on the sun to rise. Click forLarger ViewAs sure as a rooster would crow at first light, the gobbler sounded-off immediately. Ben yelped and heard the turkey fly-down and move-off toward Bob. Moving as quickly and as quietly as he could, Ben advanced to 20-yards past the tree that the turkey flew out of, moving in the direction the bird was headed. Then with his back against a large beech on one side of the ridge, Ben listened, watched and waited.

Click for Larger View“Hey, you, hey, you,” Ben heard Bob yell. With his gun on his knee, Ben moved the safety to the off position and waited some more. As Ben recalls, “In only a few seconds, I saw that cotton head stretching-out in front of the galloping bird about 30-yards away. When the Hickory Ridge Runner was 15 steps from me, I fired. The turkey weighed 20-1/2-pounds and had a 10-inch beard.”

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 Downfall of the Ole Eagle Eye 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 4