John's Journal...

First 30 Minutes of Turkey Hunting with Chris Kirby, Larry Norton and the Late Doug Camp

Day 4: More of Doug Camp’s Turkey Hunting Tactics on Public Lands

Editor’s Note: What you do in that first 30 minutes of a turkey hunt often determines if the turkey will come to your calling, if he won't come to your calling, or if you will or won't bag a bird that day. The first 30 minutes of any turkey hunt usually sets the tone for the rest of the hunt. Let's look at how avid turkey hunters approach that first 30 minutes, and what they do to bag their birds. The late Doug Camp of Talladega, Alabama, the president of Camp Calls, had hunted turkeys since 1955, before many people were able to hunt turkeys, and had taken turkeys in three states. He also guided hunters to turkeys, and most years he hunted every day of turkey season.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewOn public lands, soft calling and patience are far more productive for taking turkeys than how fast you can run to the tree, and how many sounds you can get out of your caller in less than 1 minute. In that first 30 minutes, all I'm trying to do is let a gobbler know where I am. If he doesn't come to me, then I may call louder and more aggressively. But I won't get sucked into the idea that the bird isn't coming. Most people believe that if a turkey quits gobbling when he flies down from the roost he's left the area. Perhaps that's true 50 percent of the time. However, if a bird doesn't come in during that first 30 minutes after he's flown out of the tree, I'll assume he's still standing in the last place where I've heard him gobbling, and he's trying to make his mind up whether to come in or not.

The weather, more than any other factor, determines when I'm going to get up and move on a turkey. If after the first 45 minutes to an hour of a pretty, bluebird morning the tom still doesn't gobble to me, I'll get up, leave that bird and go hunt another turkey, if I feel certain that turkeys are gobbling on that day somewhere. However, if I'm hunting on a bad-weather day, or I haven't located any other toms in the area where I'm hunting, I'll stick it out with that tom until I know my hunt is over. By 9:00 or 10:00 am when the squirrels quit moving, the birds stop singing, and nothing else is going on in the woods, I'll figure the turkey has won. I've lost that day, if I still haven't seen or heard that turkey.

I don't want you to think I won't move on a turkey, because I will as soon as I hear him gobble, know that he can't see me and either is going away from me or won't come to me. I won't wait 5 to 10 minutes after a tom gobbles to make my move, since I'll no longer know where the bird is. Only move on turkeys when you know exactly where they are, and that they can't see or hear you.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewAnother secret to calling turkeys is to let the turkey tell you how much to call to him. If he's gobbling a lot in the morning and firing back to your calls, then you can call to him often. If he gobbles only a little, then don't call to him very much. Talk to the turkey like he talks to you. The more he calls, and the faster he answers your calling, the more excited he is about mating. If he waits a long time after you call, he's got something else on his mind that's more important.

To successfully call in turkeys first thing in the morning, give as few calls as you possibly can to get the bird to come to you. Be patient, and don't force the issue with the turkey. As long as the turkey isn't spooked, I have a chance to take him. So, I always make sure I don't do anything that will spook the gobbler.

To learn more about turkey hunting from the masters, get these Kindle ebooks by John E. Phillips, including: “The Turkey Hunter's Bible,”click here; “PhD Gobblers;” click here; “Turkey Hunting Tactics,”click here; and his latest eBook “Outdoor Life’s Complete Turkey Hunting,”click here, or go to, type in the names of the books, and download them to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer. Check back at after March 24th for a reprint of John E. Phillips’ popular, sold-out book, “The Turkey Hunter’s Bible” 2nd edition.


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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 (ASA) 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: Turkey Hunter and Guide Larry Norton on Using Patience when Hunting Turkeys

Check back each day this week for more about First 30 Minutes of Turkey Hunting with Chris Kirby, Larry Norton and the Late Doug Camp"

Day 1: Quaker Boy Calls and Mossy Oak Pro Staffer Chris Kirby Explains His Turkey Hunting Strategies
Day 2: More First 30 Minute Turkey Hunting Tactics with Quaker Boy Calls and Mossy Oak Pro Staffer Chris Kirby
Day 3: The Late Doug Camp’s Turkey Strategies for Hunting Public Lands
Day 4: More of Doug Camp’s Turkey Hunting Tactics on Public Lands
Day 5: Turkey Hunter and Guide Larry Norton on Using Patience with Hunting Turkeys

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Entry 761, Day 4