John's Journal... Entry 93, Day 1
War Lord: Bo Pitman
EDITOR'S NOTE: When a hunter goes after a turkey, the war begins. If he or she doesn't have to swim a creek, crawl through fresh cow manure, run through briars, climb trees, jump barbed-wire fences or slide down mountains, then he's had an easy day afield. Aggressive turkey hunters who are scrappy and adventurous must decide before ever leaving their homes that whatever they have to do that is legal and moral, they will do to take a tom. This week some of the most enterprising war lords of the turkey-hunting fraternity will teach you the value of being aggressive when hunting turkeys.
You'll find Bo Pitman, the manager of White Oak Plantation
near Tuskegee, Alabama, lean as a razor blade, keen-eyed like a hawk,
swift as a cheetah and blessed with the tenacity that riding bucking Brahma
bulls most of his life brings. Pitman defines the words, "aggressive turkey
hunter." When Pitman leaves the lodge, he has that faraway look in his
eyes as if God Himself has called him to find and kill a longbeard. Pitman's
success lies in his knowing where and why a turkey wants to go to a certain
place and when the bird will go there. Like General George Armstrong Patton,
Pitman is an enterprising and determined battle strategist.
"That turkey can't strut up and down the road in this hot sun past 10:30 a.m.," Pitman told me. Pitman and I sat on a grassy knoll 200 yards away from the field and watched through binoculars as a strutting gobbler oversaw a flock of hens, three subordinate gobblers and three jakes.
Pitman explained that, "When those black feathers heat up from the sun, he'll have to move to the shade of the woods. Once we see the line of travel the turkey will take, we'll hightail through the woods across the field to get in front of him and take a stand just inside the wood line. Then all we'll have to do is call to him ever so softly, and he'll walk right to us."
Finally at 9:55 a.m., the flock started to walk toward the wood line. Pitman and I were hunting on White Oak's private land with no other hunters on the 2000 acres where we were.
"Take your shells out of your gun," Pitman told me. "Let's go back down this hill, and make our move."
When we were behind the protection of the hill, we stood up and then sprinted for about 300 yards, making a wide circle around the field to get ahead of the turkeys. When we arrived at a position where Pitman thought he could watch the field, he quickly and quietly climbed up the back side of a tree like a squirrel. Using binoculars, Pitman looked through the trees to the field and spotted the turkeys.
When Pitman descended the hickory, he whispered, "We need to move quickly about 50 yards toward the field and then take a stand."
I followed Pitman. After letting the woods settle for five minutes, Pitman made three, short, low yelps. Five minutes later, the big gobbler was in my gunsights. The tom went home with us for dinner that night.
TOMORROW: War Lord: Larry Norton