Editor’s Note: Perry Peterson of Manchester, Iowa, is Mossy Oak’s turkey manager for nine states in the Midwest. He has been hunting turkeys since 1994, and wearing Mossy Oak for the last 12 years.
I was hunting in southern Missouri, below Branson, from a stand in a horse pasture. The farmer had told us turkeys had been strutting in that pasture every day. About fly-down time, a gobbler flew out in the middle of the pasture with seven or eight hens. I called frequently, but decided to wait as long as it took for the hens to leave the gobbler, before I took the shot. I was trying to get the hens to come over to where we were set-up, so they would pull the gobbler with them to my stand site. We had set out decoys hoping to attracting the hens. While we were watching this gobbler in the middle of the field, I heard a gobbler strutting and drumming directly behind my tree. I said to myself, “This can’t be happening. These birds are way too close to not have spotted me.” I had to fight the urge to turn my head and look, but I just sat still. A few seconds later, I realized this gobbler were very, very close. As I slowly turned my head to look around the tree, I spotted two gobblers in full strut 20-feet away.
I was caught between three turkeys. The gobbler with the hens in the middle of the field was about 150-yards away from me. The gobblers behind me were almost strutting in my lap. These two turkeys hadn’t gobbled that morning, so we had no clue these two birds were in the stand of timber right behind us. Sometimes we forget there may be more than one gobbler in the area where we’re calling. Often the gobblers we don’t see will be the gobblers that come in first. The region where we were hunting was very green, so I was wearing Mossy Oak Obsession from head to toe. I had just-enough cover to slowly move around the tree to face the two gobblers behind me. I planned to wait until both gobblers were strutting with their rear ends facing me before moving, since a gobbler with his tail feathers fanned and in full strut can’t see what’s behind him. I didn’t get in a hurry. I took my time and was very cautious when I moved. Every time the turkeys gave me an opportunity to move, I moved just a little. Even if a turkey hears you, breaks his strut and sticks his head up, if he doesn’t see you move, he may go back into his strut. This is exactly what happened on this hunt.
As I was getting into shooting position, the gobblers never broke their struts. They were walking down the edge of the timber in full strut. Once I got around the tree, I had my shotgun on my knee and my cheek against the stock and was looking straight down the barrel of my shotgun. I gave the gobblers a soft yelp on my diaphragm call. The bird in the back stuck his head up, and I squeezed the trigger. The 21-pound gobbler only was 25-yards from me and went down instantly.