John's Journal...

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

Day 5: Turkey Hunter and Guide Larry Norton on Using Patience with Hunting Turkeys

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. Larry Norton of Butler, Alabama, two-time World Turkey Calling Champion, has won more than 40 turkey-calling contests, having hunted turkeys for 40 years and guided at Bent Creek Lodge ( in Jachin, Alabama, and The Shed. Besides winning the Alabama State Calling Championship and many other national and regional contests, Norton loves to hunt turkeys.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewWhen I hear a turkey gobble, I immediately try to determine where he is, what the terrain is like, and what the quickest way is to get to him without spooking him. Next, I try to visualize the obstacles – the creeks, fences and the thick places – that lay between me and the bird and may prevent him from coming to me. For instance, flooded timber may be to the north of the tom, which means I won't go that way. South of him may be a big creek. I realize I'll have to cross it or take a stand close enough to the creek to shoot across it, if I try to call him from that direction. East of him may lay a big clear cut. I'm fairly sure the bird won't cross that clear cut. So I'm eliminating the directions the turkey can go before I start moving toward him.

I jog to a tom once I hear him gobble. I want to get to him as soon as possible. If I wait until I have enough light to see and go to a bird, I'll drastically increase the bird's odds of spotting me as I move through the woods. The closer I get to the turkey, the slower and quieter I move. But if the bird is 1/2- to 3/4-mile away, then I'll run quickly to cut the distance between us before the day brightens up.

I'll sit down when I reach a stand site and listen for other turkeys. I want to hear jakes and hens calling to keep me from spooking them off the roost as I move closer to the gobbler and spoiling my hunt. If I hear hens calling while the morning is still dark, I want to sneak in between the gobbler and his hens, which usually will roost 75 to 100 yards from the gobbler. If I can't set-up in-between the hens and the gobbler, then I'll crowd the gobbler and get as close to him as I possibly can without spooking him off the roost – hopefully 75 yards or so from his roost tree. Then when he flies down, he'll be within my gun range or no more than 50- or 60-yards from me. He also can't get with the hens behind me. If he can, that will make him hard for me to call. I want the gobbler to think I'm the first hen that's flown off the roost in the morning and moved close to him.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewThe first call I give is to beat my hat against my leg or pat my leg with my hand to sound like a hen flying down. I won't make the fly-down cackle. When a hen cackles as she flies down, she's telling the gobbler she's excited and wants to mate. Often a gobbler will sit in his tree when he hears that fly-down cackle and wait until he sees the hen. I believe if you give the fly-down cackle as your first call that you'll often make a gobbler remain in the roost tree longer than he usually will.

After I make the sound of the hen's flying down, I'll give soft clucks and purrs, and I'll scratch in the leaves with my gloved hand. I want that gobbler to think I'm the first hen that's come close to him that morning. A mistake that often hunters make is to give excited cutts and cackles while the tom still is in the tree that will cause the bird to stay in the tree, gobbling his brains out until he spots a hen. All I want to say with my calling is, 'I'm a hen, I'm close to you, but I'm not very excited. If you're going to get me fired-up, you'll have to come to me.'

The real secret to getting a gobbler in that first 30 minutes is to convince that bird that you're the first hen on the ground, and that you've flown in close to him.

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.

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 5