John's Journal...

Ghost Birds – Gobblers That Can’t Be Taken

Day 2: Tactics That Pay Off on Bad Turkeys with the Late Ben Rodgers Lee

Editor’s Note: Some turkeys have to be killed, because they endanger the lives and sanity of individuals and communities. They can wreck as much havoc and cause as much fear as a rabid dog running loose in a community. Oftentimes they are a menace to society, and whatever means have to be employed to put them away are justified. The turkey’s superior intelligence is the main reason he is a menace to society. So wise are these birds, some hunters have called them demon possessed. Others believe they’ve been created by sorcerers, and that these birds are spirits rather than feathers and skin. And, some hunters are convinced that wily old woods wizards can read their minds. Some turkeys are so sly and tough, they become legends. Hunting them can drive you crazy.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger View“With bad turkeys, the chances of calling them up and killing them are extremely rare,” the late Ben Rodgers Lee, noted national turkey hunter and World Champion turkey caller from Coffeeville, Alabama, said. “In most cases, you’ve got to outthink that turkey and be a better woodsman than he is to kill him. You’ve got to be like a private eye and do a lot of investigating before you get your bird. I don’t like the term bushwhacking, because it sounds like you are doing something bad or wrong. I think meeting up with a gobbler in the woods using a different tactic requires just as much skill and cunning as it does to try and call one into killing range. To take an old tough tom, listening is the first thing you have to do. I don’t mean listen to the turkey gobble. I mean listen to what other hunters are saying about the turkey. Find out as much as you can about the old bird, the tactics that have been tried and failed, and the places where he has been shot at and missed. Most of the time, other hunters will tell you how to bag a turkey.

“One man told me about Old Festus, a turkey that would gobble and go away. He said, ‘When I call to Festus when he is on the roost, he will gobble and fly-down. Then he usually will run down the creek bottom and around the hill away from me or up the creek bottom and around the hill away from me!’ When the man told me that, he gave me the answer in how to kill the turkey. Terry Rohm of Georgia with Tink’s and I went in there to try and kill ole Festus. Sure enough when I called, the turkey went down the bottom away from me. I waited a few minutes and got up and circled the turkey, but I left Terry behind to owl hoot. Terry hooted every 5 or 10 minutes, and the old turkey would gobble back. In that way, I could keep up with the turkey’s location and the direction he was moving, while I tried to get in front of him.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger View“I was slipping down an old logging road when I heard some scratching in the leaves. I sat down next to a big tree, and in about 3 minutes I saw a hen about 6 yards from me. In a few more minutes, here came Festus, and I nailed him.”

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: Patterns of Turkey-Hunting Success with the Late Ben Rodgers Lee

Check back each day this week for more about Ghost Birds – Gobblers That Can’t Be Taken"

Day 1: The Swamp Bottom Baron – a Turkey Everyone Tried to Take
Day 2: Tactics That Pay Off on Bad Turkeys with the Late Ben Rodgers Lee
Day 3: Patterns of Turkey-Hunting Success with the Late Ben Rodgers Lee
Day 4: The Ridge Runner Gobbler Was Driving Everyone Crazy – Part 1
Day 5: The Ridge Runner Gobbler Was Driving Everyone Crazy - Part 2

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Entry 766, Day 2