John's Journal...


The Head Thumping PhDs

EDITOR’S NOTE: Any turkey hunter who tells you he knows everything about taking a turkey will lie to you about something else. Turkey hunting is a continuing-education program. Every spring you learn more than you have the spring before. There are several ways to learn the sport of turkey hunting, including videos, television shows, books, magazine articles and newspaper articles. But the very-best way to learn how to hunt a turkey are from the turkeys themselves, especially the PhD gobblers that know as much about the hunters who hunt them, as the hunters know about the turkeys they are trying to take. I’ve just completed my fifth turkey-hunting book, “Hunter’s Specialties’ PhD Gobblers.” In the book I’ve interviewed some of the greatest turkey hunters in the nation - the Hunter’s Specialties’ Pros - and each pro tells us about three different gobblers and what they’ve learned from these PhD gobblers. For the next few days, you can read excerpts from the book. You can buy the book from us by calling (205) 967-3830 or emailing us at for $24.95 each plus $4 Click to enlargeshipping and handling. I’ll sign and date the book for you if you’ll send a check or a money order for $28.95 each or use PayPal-

Rick White of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has been an avid turkey hunter for 27 years and in that time has met many PhD gobblers. He has helped design the Alumi Strut Call and hunts all of the days during turkey-hunting season. White travels the country giving seminars on turkey and deer hunting and works both sides of the video camera to help film hunts for Hunter’s Specialties’ Video Productions. He has won seven Iowa State Turkey Calling Championships. White loves to compete because, “The level of competition gets better and better. Having good quality calls like the ones we make at Hunter’s Specialties helps me be consistent when I call.”

“If you watch an old movie about times when children went to school in a one-room schoolhouse, often you’ll see a teacher with a thimble on her finger,” White says. “If a child’s being naughty or not behaving, the teacher will walk up behind the child and thump him on the head with the thimble to get the child’s attention and to correct his behavior. Well, I’ve had many PhD gobblers thump me on the head when I’ve made the same mistake over and over again early in my turkey-hunting career. I never will forget my first head thumping. Click to enlargeThe turkey was gobbling his head off on the roost. I’d give him a few clucks and purrs and a tree call, and the bird would scream back to me with a gobble. When he flew down and hit the ground, he gobbled good, and I thought for sure he was coming to me. But then he started gobbling less and less as dawn turned to daylight. Finally, he quit gobbling at all. After 10 or 15 minutes of not hearing the turkey gobble, I decided that either the turkey had gotten with hens and left or had somewhere else he needed to be rather than come to me. When I got up to go look for another turkey to hunt, I flushed the gobbler I could have shot, if I’d only waited 10- or 15-more minutes. You’d think I’d learned after that first encounter to stay on my stand longer after the turkey quit gobbling, but I didn’t. I had my head thumped many times by silent gobblers before they finally taught me the technique I still use today to take a bird like this.

“Here’s the system I’ve learned that works best for me to take silent gobblers:
* “remember that just because a turkey quits gobbling doesn’t mean he’s not coming to your calling.
* “don’t forget that turkeys have short legs, take much smaller steps than we do and can’t walk as fast as we do. When they’re coming to you, they won’t reach where you are as fast as you think they will.
* “sit still longer than you think you need to, particularly if you’re not a good judge of time like me. Often when I think 30 minutes has passed, I only will have been sitting still for 10 minutes. I always wear a watch when Click to enlargeI’m turkey hunting. Then when the tom quits gobbling, I’ll look at my watch and make a decision to stay on the stand for at least 30 more minutes by the clock – no matter what. You’ll be amazed at how many gobblers you’ll bag when you force yourself to remain on your stand 30-minutes longer than you think you should. Thirty minutes seems like a long time, especially when you’re sitting still and waiting for a gobbler to appear.

“You can learn to turkey hunt. Although several PhD gobblers have taught me this lesson, and I’ve spooked quite a few gobblers before I’ve learned this lesson, I now know how important waiting 30-minutes more than you think you should is to take more gobblers.”

Check back each day this week for more about HUNTER’S SPECIALTIES’ PHD GOBBLERS

Day 1: The Textbook Turkey, PhD
Day 2: Mr. On-the-Move Gobbler, PhD
Day 3: Piketown PhD Tom
Day 4: The Crooked Toe Tom, PhD
Day 5: The Head Thumping PhDs



Entry 343, Day 5