John's Journal...

Some of Turkey Hunting's Toughest Questions Answered

Missed Gobblers, Gobblers in the Rain and First-Time Hunters

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: If you haven't experienced frustration when turkey hunting, you must have fallen asleep before you've called a bird in to you. If you hunt turkeys often, you'll encounter situations where you'll wish you have expert advice to help you best a bronze baron. Just think of how beneficial a turkey hunter would find an electronic rolodex about the size of a credit card if in any turkey-hunting situation, he could type in a turkey-hunting problem. Then instantly he could receive an answer as to how to solve the problem from one of the best turkey hunters in the nation. For example, you could enter the problem, "The bird's walking away from me, now what should I do?" An expert could give you four or more different tactics to try on that gobbler. You'll find this article the next best thing to an electronic rolodex full of turkey-hunting information. Fold the article, and place it in a Ziploc bag in your pocket. When you meet a bad bird or find yourself in a tough hunting situation, pull the article, and try the tactics of these turkey-hunting pros.

How to Take the Shot-At-But-Missed Gobbler:
Editor’s Note: Don Shipp of Clinton, Arkansas, won the 1997 and 1998 World Turkey Calling championships, as well as many other state and regional turkey championships. Shipp also loves to turkey hunt.Click to enlarge

According to Shipp, "If you want to hunt a really-tough tom, try to bag a gobbler you've shot at and missed in the same day.  If the bird flies off, listen carefully to determine in which direction the turkey has flown.  Often the turkey will light in a tree, and you'll hear his wings hitting the tree's branches. Wait at least 30 minutes, circle the turkey, and try to come to him from a different direction. The turkey won't be as likely to go back in the direction where he's been spooked before.  Then I try and call to the turkey with a locator call, like a woodpecker call, a crow call or an owl call. If possible, I want to make the tom gobble, and then I'll be able to locate him. Next I'll change calls and call to the turkey very softly as though I'm another hen. I won't get aggressive with my calling to a turkey I've just missed. I want to soft talk him in to where I can take a shot. If you won't get too close to the turkey and practice patience and soft calling, you'll have a good chance at getting a second shot."

How to Hunt in the Rain:Click to enlarge
Editor’s Note: Chris Kirby, the president of Quaker Boy Calls in Orchard Park, New York, won the World Turkey Calling Championship in 1995, the Grand National in 1998, the U.S. Open four times, the Masters' Invitational and eight New York State championships. He's hunted all the North American species of wild turkey and has grown up with a turkey call in his mouth.

"Although most hunters don't deliberately go turkey hunting in the rain, just about every spring you'll get caught out in the rain during turkey season. I'll put a camouflage umbrella on a pole.  Then I'll set up a blind on the edge of a field where I've seen turkeys in the past. Next I'll set decoys out in the field. Then when a lull in the weather occurs, I'll begin to call. I've found I often have to call a little louder than normal to be heard above the rain. Historically though, turkeys will go to fields anywhere in the country when it rains."

How to Take Someone on Their First Turkey Hunt:
As the son of Dick Kirby, the founder of Quaker Boy, each year Chris Kirby calls turkeys in for himself and for the outdoor writers and customers of Quaker Boy. People often ask Kirby to take beginners on their first hunts.Click to enlarge

"I always take a blind with me when I hunt with beginners so that the newcomer doesn't have to sit still," Kirby says. "Then if the hunter moves, more than likely, the turkey won't see him.  I've found that turkey hunters like blinds better than they do sitting in front of a tree. Patience is one of the most-important things to remember when you're working with beginners. These hunters don't have the knowledge of turkeys or turkey hunting that you have – that’s the reason you're with them.  Remain conscious of ever being the teacher, not the hunter. Teach the finer points of turkey hunting. Don't just tell a newcomer not to move. Explain that if he moves, the turkey will spot him because gobblers can see 10 times better than people. Remind the hunter to sit very still. Sit shoulder to shoulder with the newcomer to the sport. Then you can describe every aspect of the hunt as the bird makes his way toward you. Tell the novice why you make certain calls, and what they mean. Instruct him or her when to pick up his gun and when to take the shot. Finally, tell the beginner before he takes the shot when the turkey is in range to feel his cheek against the stock, and keep his head down on the gun, even after he pulls the trigger. If the beginner moves and spooks the turkey, don't throw a temper tantrum. Calmly explain what's happened and why. Don't make a big deal out of a beginner's mistakes. The best advice I can offer you when you hunt with a beginner is to practice kindness. Go at the beginner's pace. Don't try and walk him or her to death or spoil the fun of turkey hunting."

Tomorrow: The Toughest Turkey I’ve Ever Faced and What I’ve Learned

Check back each day this week for more about "Some of Turkey Hunting's Toughest Questions Answered "

Day 1: Beat-Up Gobblers and Gobblers Across a Property Line
Day 2: Gobblers Across a River, Gobblers That Get Hung-Up and No-Gobble Gobblers
Day 3: Missed Gobblers, Gobblers in the Rain and First-Time Hunters
Day 4: The Toughest Turkey I’ve Ever Faced and What I’ve Learned
Day 5: The Toughest Turkey Ever


Entry 448, Day 3