Unsung Secrets of Successful Turkey Hunting

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Published on: Apr. 2, 2003

Last revision: Nov. 15, 2010

Dawn approached through a gray, overcast sky,"We're a little late," I whispered to my teenage son, Michael, and his friend Kevin.

As we walked up the hill of a cow pasture, I pondered the possibility of calling up a gobbler on this March morning. Turkey hunting season was a month away, and though I seldom work turkeys during the preseason, Kevin had never seen one respond to a call. Sparking his interest in turkey hunting seemed worth the risk of wising up an old tom.

The wooded ridge at the top of the hill revealed bare branches against the gathering light. As we quietly entered the timber's edge, I scanned the trees in the predawn. Seventy yards away loomed a large, round silhouette among the limbs of an old white oak tree. Squirrel's nest or turkey? I couldn't tell.

Quietly, we eased next to a thick-trunked sugar maple and sat down. As I stared at the form in the white oak, I thought I saw it move. I waited a few moments and then gave some soft tree yelps.

"Geeobble!" The black form puffed and made a slow, deliberate turn on its limb to face us. Another turkey gobbled a short distance down the ridge.

"Don't move," I warned Michael and Kevin.

I called no more. Ten minutes later, and after little gobbling, both birds pitched down and began slowly walking away from us. When they moved out of sight behind the lip of the ridge, I cut loudly on my diaphragm caller and then followed the call with coarse, snappy yelps. Both turkeys gobbled, crested the ridge and walked straight to us. For 15 minutes they strutted, gobbled and drummed. Half the time they were well within shotgun range.

At one point, one of the gobblers walked up in full strut and faced us, 10 steps away, breast feathers shimmering. The duo finally moved off and out of sight. They never once "putted" or showed any sign of alarm.My own introduction to turkey hunting, and the keys to this morning's success, came 20 years ago. Fresh out of college and serving as the new science teacher at a rural high school deep in the Missouri Ozarks, I linked up with a local family that for generations had hunted turkeys for food and sport.

Those friends taught me the true secrets of successful turkey hunting.

I've shared them with my children, and I'd like to share them with you. I

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