John's Journal...

Ghost Birds – Gobblers That Can’t Be Taken

Day 3: Patterns of Turkey-Hunting Success 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 View“On other tough turkeys, the only way you can take them is to find their strutting grounds,” the late Ben Rodgers Lee, nationally renowned turkey hunter and caller, explained. “A turkey will establish a pattern during the season. He will have a certain place and a specific time of day that he goes to this spot to meet his hens. You usually can find a turkey’s strutting ground by looking for a clear area on the forest floor where the tom has been dragging his wings. If you will sit down next to a big tree about 20-yards from that strutting place and wait from daylight to dark, at some time during the day, that turkey will show-up there. On these old tough gobblers, you shouldn’t try and call them to within killing range. You just wait for them to show-up.

Click for Larger View“There was another old turkey that one man had been hunting for 17 days. He called me and said this turkey would gobble from the roost, fly down and then go away from him. But he said every morning at 8:00 am, the Harem King, as he had named him, would show up in this one pasture with 12 or 15 hens. I told the man over the phone, ‘Now if you want me to come and hunt the turkey I will. But you’ve got to decide right now whether you want me to call the turkey or kill him.’ When the man said he wanted that gobbler for dinner, I went to help him. I told the man we weren’t going to try to call the turkey but were going straight to the pasture.

Click for Larger View“At 6:15, I went down to the pasture. You could hear turkeys calling. By 6:30 am, there must have been 10 or 15 hens out in the pasture. I walked right to the center of the pasture and clapped my hands, and the hens ran off. I didn’t want those hens in the field when that gobbler showed up. Then I walked up on the side of the hill in the woods just off the pasture and waited. At almost 7:30 am, I could hear the Harem King gobbling. I started cutting like an excited hen. Then I gobbled. The turkey gobbled back. So, I told the man with me, ‘Let’s sit down. We’re ready to kill this bird.’ I gobbled back at the turkey, and he double-gobbled. The Harem King thought another gobbler had moved in on his harem and had gotten to the hens before the Harem King had shown up. Next I started cutting again like an excited hen around a gobbler. In a few minutes, the old turkey came in drumming, and the man I was with bagged him.

Click for Larger View“So, with a bad turkey, remember to use a different technique than what’s already been tried, because you know what’s been attempted hasn’t worked, or else the men who’ve attempted will have killed the turkey. Just get to where the turkey is going to be. And, if you have to call, use something different than what he is accustomed to hearing. The main thing to remember when you’re trying to take a tough turkey is that you’ve got to do something different to what all the other hunters who have hunted have done. If you do, you stand a very-good chance of killing 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.

Share this page with a friend!

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: The Ridge Runner Gobbler Was Driving Everyone Crazy – Part 1

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

ALL CONTENT PROTECTED UNDER THE DIGITAL MILLENIUM COPYRIGHT ACT. Content theft, either printed or electronic is a federal offense.


Entry 766, Day 3