John's Journal...

Use Creative Tactics to Find and Take Turkeys Mid Day

Day 2: Why and How to Hunt Brunch Time Gobblers

IClick for Larger View first hunted with David Hale, one of the founders of Knight and Hale Game Calls in Cadiz, Kentucky, about 30-years ago. Although I had the same shoe size I have now, I had a waist about three sizes smaller and lots more hair. Both of us just had started our careers in the outdoors and wanted to take a turkey. Although we worked hard all morning to try and bag a gobbler, the bird we'd picked chose a flock of hens to move through the woods with, rather than coming to our calling. But I learned right away that I couldn't tag David Hale a quitter. I learned he'd hunt turkeys from before daylight until the falling of darkness.

Click for Larger View"We gotta go, John," Hale told me after we'd failed to take a bird on our morning hunt. "We've gotta cover ground and find a bird that's lonesome in the middle of the morning. We'll run these hills until we locate a turkey that will talk." From about 7:30 am until we finally heard a tom gobble at 10:00 am, we quickly-stepped through the mountainous areas near Hale's home. Every 150 yards Hale would say, "Wait a minute, John. Let's check this hollow." Then Hale would cut and cackle on a diaphragm call. As I tried to suck in enough air to relieve the tightness I felt in my lungs, I'd next hear, "John, slow down your breathing so I can hear better."
For most of the morning, I thought this exercise an effort in futility. Then at 10:15 am, a turkey gobbled as clearly and distinctly as I'd ever heard a bird talk. Hale immediately announced, "There he is. I knew if we covered enough ground and called long enough, sooner or later we'd locate a hot bird. I believe that gobbler will come down that old logging road on the side of the hill. Let's drop off the side of this ridge, and set up beside that logging road."

Following Hale's directions, we went toward the turkey. I'd barely gotten comfortable sitting beside a big pine tree when Hale whispered, "He's coming." When I whispered back that I couldn't see the tom, Hale told me the bird had gone down into a little dip in the road. John, although get comfortable, put your gun on your knee and ready yourself to take the shot. When that gobbler comes up out of that dip in the road, he'll be about 50-yards from you. Just let him keep coming until he reaches that pine stump on the left-hand side of the road. He'll be about 30-yards from you there, and then you can take the shot."

Click for Larger ViewJust as Hale predicted, the tom came out of the dip, and I spotted his white, cotton-colored head moving up the road. Then I could see his big bronze body waddling from side to side, and his ropelike beard swinging with the rhythm of his stride. The bird kept walking until he reached the stump. Hale clucked on his diaphragm call. The bird's head went straight up like a periscope. Hale told me to, "Take him." I squeezed the trigger and created a memory for life – but not the one you would think or the one I'd hoped to get. As I watched, the big bird jumped straight up in the air and flew away. Although my brain went into high gear, replaying the shot as quickly as possible, I could find absolutely no reason for my miss and told Hale that.

Click for Larger ViewMissing while hunting alone doesn't involve nearly the shame that comes with missing while hunting with one of the legends of turkey hunting, like David Hale. However, I learned then about the Brotherhood of Misses in the Fraternity of Gobbler Chasers as Hale grinned and said, "Aw, don't worry about it, John. I miss turkeys too. Although I haven't missed one as open as that one was, I still miss them. Don't worry. That gobbler just whipped us. However, we'll get another one either today or tomorrow. Let's go hunt some more. Besides, if you'd killed that turkey, we'd have to quit hunting. Now we can keep on hunting and maybe find another bird." I learned so much that day about turkey hunting in the middle of the morning that day and the importance of persevering and staying after gobblers until you finally made one talk.

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About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (AMA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Tomorrow: Tactics for Hunting Mid-Morning Turkeys

Check back each day this week for more about "Use Creative Tactics to Find and Take Turkeys Mid Day"

Day 1: How to Hunt Opening-Week Gobblers
Day 2: Why and How to Hunt Brunch Time Gobblers
Day 3: Tactics for Hunting Mid-Morning Turkeys
Day 4: Hunting Tough Tom Turkeys
Day 5: You Can Take Turkeys by Crossing Mountains, Floating to Them and Hunting Land No One Else Can Hunt

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Entry 710, Day 2