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Turkey Hunting with Bo Pitman of White Oak Plantation

Understanding Turkey Time

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Bo Pitman can’t remember when he hasn’t hunted turkeys. For more than 20 years, he’s guided and hunted turkeys at White Oak Plantation near Tuskegee, Alabama, a 30,000-acre-plus hunting lodge that has some of the best turkey hunting in the nation. From March 14th to the end of April, Pitman’s in the woods of White Oak hunting turkeys every day. With stands of hardwood timber, pine plantations and fields dispersed throughout the property, White Oak’s ideal habitat for the Eastern wild turkey. Each season, 30 to 50 hunters bag from 35 to 55 turkeys off this property. I don’t know any other place in the nation with more gobbling Eastern turkeys than White Oak. This week, we’ll ask Pittman what’s required to take a longbeard, and what we need to know to increase our odds for taking gobblers this spring.

To really learn how to hunt a turkey and have a great hunt, you have to hunt on turkey Click to enlargetime, not your time. Turkey time means when we leave the lodge, my hunter and I aren’t concerned about anything but finding and taking the turkey. We’re not worried about getting back to the lodge to eat lunch or dinner, make a phone call, meet up with buddies or do anything else but hunt turkeys. Regardless of how long we have to hunt and what we have to do, we intend to kill a turkey that day, and we don’t let any outside distractions interfere with the time we have to spend hunting that turkey. When you’re hunting turkeys, you never know what you’ll have to do, when you’ll have to do it, or how long you’ll need to get into a position to take a turkey. In the real world, people like to compartmentalize their time. They have day planners, schedulers and specific tasks they try to perform in a certain time. But to be an effective turkey hunter, you absolutely can’t have that mindset. If you do, you’re doomed to fail. For example, if you hear a turkey gobble, and you call to that turkey, in your mind, you’ve made a decision of about how long it should take for that turkey to reach you. If that turkey doesn’t get to wClick to enlargehere you are in the time you think he should, you start thinking you should move, or call more or perhaps the turkey has left. When you start thinking like that, you’re no longer operating on the turkey’s time, because that turkey decides when he’ll reach where he’s going, and what he’ll do when he gets there. You have to be patient enough to let that turkey decide what he’ll do and where he’ll go, and only after he’s made his decision can you decide what you need to do to try and take him.

Now, making a turkey do anything is hard. A turkey will do what a turkey wants to do. A hunter has to take his directions from what that turkey decides rather than trying to make that turkey do what the hunter wants him to do. You can call and scratch in the leaves to entice him or give him a reason to come to you. But the bottom line on turkey hunting is that a turkey will do what he wants to do, and if you’re not in tune with what Click to enlargethat turkey wants to do, you won’t take him home for supper. You can’t give a turkey an order as you can your children, or the people you work with and expect that turkey to do what you tell him to do. The best turkey hunters I’ve ever been with are hunters who say, “Okay, Bo. I don’t have anything on my mind today but you, me and that turkey. I’ll do whatever you ask me to do from daylight until dark to get this turkey.” Now, that’s a real turkey hunter, and that’s a turkey hunter who’s hunting on turkey time. Turkey time also means making the decision before you leave the lodge that you may have to wade in a creek up to your armpits, crawl across a cow pasture with fresh cow dung, snake your way through a briar thicket, stay out in the rain until after dark or walk further than you want to walk. Whatever’s between you and the turkey, you have to be willing to go to reach a place where you have a reasonable chance to take that turkey. One of the most-critical elements to my hunters’ abilities to take turkeys when they hunt with me is that they make the deliberate decisions that on this day, in this place, they’ll be on turkey time.

For more information on hunting at White Oak Plantation, call (334) 727-9258, or visit or email

Tomorrow: Stuff You’ve Gotta Have

Check back each day this week for more about "Turkey Hunting with Bo Pitman of White Oak Plantation"

Day 1: The Cussing Gobbler
Day 2: Understanding Turkey Time
Day 3: Stuff You’ve Gotta Have
Day 4: Why Your Gun Doesn’t Shoot Straight
Day 5: Stingy Calling



Entry 392, Day 2