John's Journal...

Unorthodox Tactics for Desperate Turkey Hunters

Day 5: The Downfall of the Ole Eagle Eye 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 ViewOle Eagle Eye was another turkey-hunting legend that defied the skillet for 5 years. “There were no tactics, legal or illegal, that hadn’t been tried on Ole Eagle Eye,” my friend Richard remembered. “I know the bird had been shot-at, at least twice. However, he always escaped. Click for Larger ViewBut after three seasons of hunting him, I finally learned how to take him. I had Ole Eagle Eye in my gunsights when he was 70-yards away and headed straight for me. I was leaning-up against a big pine tree and was camouflaged from my head to my toes. My eyes were even squinted, so the whites of my eyeballs couldn’t give me away. When Ole Eagle Eye was 50-yards away, just out of gun range, he stopped, looked straight at me, craned his neck and looked me over good. I knew there was no way he could see me, because my camo was perfect. I had even stopped breathing. But, he did see me and putted as he ran off. I was dumbfounded. So, I decided the only reasonable explanation was that Ole Eagle Eye could recognize camouflage. To test my theory, I took off my camo shirt and laid it against the wet pine tree. I went to the spot where Ole Eagle Eye had been standing, and sure enough, that green camo stood-out like a red light against the black background of the pine tree.”

After searching several stores, Richard found a camo shirt that matched the pine tree trunks in the area where Ole Eagle Eye roamed and a pair of pants that matched the pine needles and leaves on the woodland floor. “Now that I had the right camo pattern, I knew Ole Eagle Eye couldn’t see me,” Richard explained. But even though Richard’s camo was right, the hunter-wise turkey still would come no closer than 50 yards. After thinking every thought a sportsman could think about turkeys and tactics and drawing on 20 years of turkey-hunting experience, Richard was left with only one conclusion. “I decided Ole Eagle Eye could recognize the human form when it was leaning up against a tree. I decided to lay down flat on the ground, forget about the redbugs and ticks and try to call Ole Eagle Eye.” Stretched-out, Richard began to call. The turkey answered and moved in closer. Click for Larger ViewWhen Ole Eagle Eye was 50-yards away with his head behind a tree, Richard propped-up on his elbows and aimed. “I knew if Ole Eagle Eye veered to the right or left, there would be no way I could move to take him.” Luckily, however, the bird came straight-in, and Richard, from his prone position, laid the old gobbler down.

Often, extraordinary tactics are required to take hunter-wise turkeys. Click for Larger ViewThese brainy birds will only fall for the men who are keen observers as well as superior hunters. No matter how smart a gobbler is, most of the time, there is an Achilles’ heel somewhere in the bird’s personality. An innovative hunter must study and find that vulnerable spot. Then with a bit of luck, the bird is his through perhaps unorthodox strategies.

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


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 5