John's Journal...

What Are Your Personal Rules for Hunting Wild Turkeys?

Day 3: Hunting the Lightning Turkey and the Air Gobbler and the Dirt Road Tom

Editor’s Note: Every turkey hunter sets-up his own set of rules about what’s fair and not fair within the laws of the area where he’s hunting when he hunts the wily gobbler. Often a turkey hunter believes his personal ethical turkey-hunting code should be implemented by every other turkey hunter. Many wild turkeys earn their names, because of their characteristics or actions. The men and women who hunt them have intimate relationships with these gobblers. In the situations we’ll describe this week, you’ll make up your own mind as to whether the hunter should have taken the gobbler or let the tom survive another day.

The Lightning Turkey:

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewOnce there was a tom that had fooled every turkey hunter in a certain hunting club for 2 years. Sometimes this turkey would gobble from the roost and not talk again for most of the day. He’d been shot at several times and had been spooked by hunters numerous times. This bird was hunter-smart and woods-wise. He became almost a legend in the nearby, small, sleepy, southern community. Finally on one rainy morning when the lightning was popping, and the sky was lighting up, glowing with a heavenly aura, one of the hunters went into the woods. He thought the hard-to-take gobbler might shock gobble to the thunder. In that early morning downpour as the light came up behind the bird sitting in a beech tree, the sportsman spotting a clearing just in front of the roost tree where he assumed the gobbler would fly. Belly crawling up to the edge of the clearing, the hunter waited in the rain and the mud for the tom to leave the limb. When the turkey flew from the roost and hit the ground, the shotgun reported as the hunter took the big gobbler.

1) Would you term the bagging of this tom as ambushing?
2) Should the bird have been allowed to survive if he couldn’t be called?

The Air Gobbler and the Dirt Road Tom:

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewTwo friends were hunting together when they spotted hens feeding in a field. As they made their approach to glass the rest of the field, three big gobblers flew up in front of them. The first hunter fired at a tom, knocking the bird down. The turkey ran off with the hunter in hot pursuit. The second hunter followed the first hunter. When the first hunter fired a second time to down his gobbler, another longbeard flew over his head, landed in the middle of a dirt road and ran off the edge of the road in front of the second hunter. As the second longbeard tried to run into a briar thicket, the second hunter quickly brought his shotgun to his shoulder and fired, rolling the tom. Neither of these two turkeys had been called, yet both hunters were successful.

1) Should the first hunter have shot the gobbler in the air?
2) Should the second hunter have shot the tom when it had no chance of escape through the thicket?
3) What would you consider fair in a situation like this one?
4) What would you have done?

To learn more about turkey hunting from the masters, get these Kindle eBooks by John E. Phillips, including: “The Turkey Hunter's Bible (available as an eBook or in paperback),”PhD Gobblers: How to Hunt the Smartest Turkeys in the World,” “Turkey Hunting Tactics” and his latest eBook, “Outdoor Life’s Complete Turkey Hunting.” Click on the links above, 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.

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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: Hunting the Field Turkey and the Spooked Gobbler

Check back each day this week for more about What Are Your Personal Rules for Hunting Wild Turkeys?"

Day 1: Is the Sport of Turkey Hunting and Turkey Calling the Same?
Day 2: Taking the Flying Turkey Gobbler and the Slow Tom
Day 3: Hunting the Lightning Turkey and the Air Gobbler and the Dirt Road Tom
Day 4: Hunting the Field Turkey and the Spooked Gobbler
Day 5: Hunting the Processional Tom and the Not Close Enough Gobbler

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Entry 763, Day 3