I don’t know about you all, but I’ve been impatiently awaiting turkey season for almost a year. As a Texan, I didn’t start turkey hunting until I was in my twenties. If there is one thing in the hunting industry that I truly regret it is the fact that I waited that long to hunt spring turkey.
Sometimes turkeys can be tough to call in and truly aggravating. Since turkey season is right around the corner, I thought that I would write about some things that have helped in my success.
For me, the number one most important thing to find success in the turkey woods is patience. Just because you are playing your version of a hen turkey’s love song doesn’t mean Mr. Tom is going to be in love. With that said, he may make his way over to check her out, but you best be prepared to wait him out. I have many mentors when it comes to turkey hunting but none greater then Jerry Martin and Walter Parrott. Both of these men taught me that patience is the cornerstone of turkey hunting success. I remember one time in Florida, I was Osceola hunting near Vero Beach. The morning was unproductive so after a quick lunch I headed back out to hunt all afternoon. About a half mile from our camp, I stopped and blew a crow call and instantly got a gobble. I text my buddy Jimmy that I had one gobbling and was moving a little closer to try and bring him in. I sat down and made a series of yelps and he immediately answered and started coming my way. When I first called, I estimate this gobbler was around 150 yards from where I set up. Within five minutes he had closed that distance to seventy-five yards and was gobbling every breath while standing behind a palmetto bush. He was fired up and I just stayed quiet. Looking down the barrel of my shotgun remaining perfectly still thirty minutes rolled by in what seemed like an eternity. This tom gobbled at least every ten seconds for that entire half hour. Even though he was gobbling and walking back and forth behind that clump of palmetto, he never came out either side. I never called during this time and he never came closer; my gun was starting way about five hundred pounds, something had to give. Taking advantage of him being behind cover, I shifted my gun to my other knee just to stop the burning in every muscle in my body. I then decided that with bird being so fired up I would start calling aggressively to him and see if that would break his stubbornness. With my mouth call, I cut hard at him and yelped loudly. This made him even more fired up and he started doubling his gobbles back to back. I saw a blue head peak around the side of the bush and slowly come around the corner in my direction. This is the moment that addicted me to turkey hunting. To this day, hundreds of turkeys after my first, this moment still makes my heart beat out of my chest. On a string, he came, taking one slow step at a time in full strut. There was one palmetto bush between he and I and a little to the left side of me at thirty yards. Mr. Gobbler walked right up behind it and parked it again. This bush wasn’t any more than four feet wide, but he got behind it and stayed there. I tried being aggressive and he gobbled but wouldn’t budge. I then decided it was time for me to go totally quiet. With some quiet purrs I moved my fingers in the leaves at my side and didn’t make another sound. My intentions were to say, “Man I’m right here, but your lack of movement has disinterested me, I’m moving on.” There was no way this bird could walk away and not be seen so I knew he was right behind that bush. I stopped making noise and so did he. With me looking down my gun barrel for an incredibly long time nothing happened. About an hour into the second standoff I started doubting myself. The pain in my legs and arms had reached critical and I had to lower my gun. By this time, I had convinced myself that he had somehow, although impossible, walked away without being seen. I closed my eyes and listened as closely as I could. Obviously, he wasn’t gobbling, and I couldn’t hear the leaves moving either. Do I go find another bird? I asked myself what would Jerry and Walter do? They’d wait him out, he’s there, and he’s just being a turkey. After all of my negative thoughts and fleeting patience had gone away, I decided that today just wasn’t going to be the day. Looking to my right, I noticed that sun was getting low on the horizon and I needed to make a move; I needed to know if he was behind that bush or not. I quietly stood up and aimed my gun at the bush. When my foot crunched the pine needles on my first step, he gobbled, and I about fainted. This is when I decide that I would slowly keep walking at the bush with my gun aimed toward it. If the tom came out either side, I’d have a great shot. Every time my foot made a noise on the ground he’d scream at the noise. When I was less than fifteen yards from the bush his head peeked around the left side and he walked out in strut. Realizing that his girlfriend was about five feet taller then she should be he dropped strut and I fired. He flopped and I just stood there amazed at what it took to get this bird. I had text Jimmy about hearing a gobble at 1:06PM, now I was standing on my flopping bird’s head and looking at my watch which said, 5:44PM. That is a long time to wait for a gobbler and had I not waited I’d have never gotten the bird. Patience is the number one arsenal in turkey hunting for me.
Knowing your hunting area, knowing when to call and not calling too much are important. However, nothing can beat patience when it comes to turkey hunting.