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Perry Peterson Hunts the Fat Turkeys of the Midwest

Iowa Turkeys Are So Big with Perry Peterson

Editor’s Note: Perry Peterson is Mossy Oak’s Regional Pro Staff Manager for the nine states in the upper Midwest. He’s been a Mossy Oak Pro ever since the beginning of the Mossy Oak Pro Staff and lives in Iowa. Iowa’s youth season started in April and turkey season runs until May 22, 2017. His 10-year-old son bagged an eastern gobbler that weighed 28 pounds during the youth season, and a friend of Peterson’s hunting on his farm bagged a fat 31-pound gobbler.

One of the reasons that Midwestern turkeys get so big is that they are raised around cattle. The cattle are fed corn all winter, and the turkeys feed with the cattle. Even when the weather is bad, and the temperature is cold, the turkeys feed on the undigested grain in the cow patties. The other thing that helps our turkeys grow so big is they don’t have to go far to get something to eat. They only may roost 100 yards from where we feed the cattle. I take numbers of people hunting every year, and a few of those people I take bowhunting for turkeys. However, bowhunting turkeys takes a lot of time for someone to bag a turkey, so I prefer to shotgun hunt them. The success rate is higher with shotgun hunters than with bowhunters. I can take more friends and family shotgun hunting than I can bowhunting.

Iowa has four turkey seasons. You can take one turkey in either one of the first three seasons, and you can take your second bird during the fourth season. However, we can take two turkeys in the spring and two in the fall. I have a lot of people ask me, “How do you hunt turkeys in the fall?” During bow/deer season, we watch the turkeys, see where they are traveling and learn the routes that they take. Then during fall turkey season, we set-up on the routes that they travel, do a little bit of calling and bag our birds. We follow the number-one rule of turkey hunting - if you set-up where the turkeys want to be - you drastically increase your odds for taking a turkey. 

In the fall, we have broken-up a flock of turkeys, sat down and tried to call them back in, but most often the jakes will come in, and we won’t see the big gobblers. So, we prefer to hunt the big gobblers by scouting them like we scout for deer. Although the turkeys are somewhat smaller during the fall than they are in the spring - only weighing 20 to 25 pounds - they are still a pretty respectable gobbler. The biggest turkey I ever have taken in the spring weighed right at 30 pounds. Although we own a 249-acre farm, we also have some neighbors who allow us to hunt on their lands. One of the neighbors has 600 acres, another neighbor has 500 acres, and they allow us to hunt their lands, too. So, we actually hunt about 1,300 acres and take an average of eight gobblers a year off those properties. I’ve been fairly successful at filling my tags every year, but I also get to hunt a lot and call for my family and friends.

For more information about turkey hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ Kindle and print book, “Mossy Oak Pros Talk Turkey Tactics,” at http://amzn.to/1qZnffi and the Nook book at www.barnesandnoble.com. You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or SmartPhone. For a free copy of John E. Phillips’ “The Turkey Gobbler Getter Manual,” go to http://johninthewild.com/free-books/ to download.

Tomorrow: Perry Peterson’s Toughest Tom

May 15, 2017

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