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Jack Lester’s Cedar Tree Bow Longbeard Turkey with Mossy Oak’s Mike Cockerham


Editor’s Note: Mike Cockerham of Oglethorpe, Georgia, is a Mossy Oak Regional Pro Staff manager for Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. He has been hunting wild turkeys for 21 years. “I have owned only one camouflage garment that wasn’t Mossy Oak since 1986. I was hunting in Wyoming and was about to freeze to death. I went to the store, and the only camouflage jacket I could find was an off-brand camo pattern.” 

A friend of mine who also is a Mossy Oak Pro Staffer, Jack Lester, always had wanted to shoot a turkey with a bow. I agreed to call to give him the opportunity. We got to a field where he’d been seeing turkeys and picked a spot close to the edge of the field where there were some cedar trees. Instead of using a blind, we cut off some limbs on the cedar tree, so Jack could back up into the tree and his silhouette would be completely blocked. Then, we took some of the limbs we had cut, stuck them into the ground to create a blind in front of Jack and placed a jake and a hen decoy out in front of him.

I decided to sit on the ground close to Jack and call. When we first saw the turkey after he’d flown down, he was about 100-yards away in a cut cotton field. I started giving light yelps and soft clucks. Occasionally, I cut to the turkey on my Zink diaphragm call. Once I got the gobbler’s attention, and he could see the decoys, I didn’t call to him again since he started coming to us. I think once a turkey is committed to come to a decoy, you really don’t need to call to him again most of the time. If the decoy is luring the gobbler in, I like to shut up and let him move to within shooting range. 

Cockerham2_llJack was on my left side, and the gobbler was coming in from my right side. As that gobbler kept getting closer and closer, I could tell he was moving right to me. I knew the longbeard would have to walk right past me to get to the decoys, and then Jack could take the shot with his bow. When I’m turkey hunting, I usually wear two different types of Mossy Oak camo. On that day, I was wearing Mossy Oak Break-Up pants and a Mossy Oak Obsession shirt. I want my pants to blend in with the ground, and my shirt to blend in with the bushes around me. I’ve been buying Mossy Oak camouflage since the company started, so I have six Rubbermaid containers packed to the brim with Mossy Oak camo. I still have some of the original Bottomland pattern and wear it. 

When the turkey walked past me at 5 feet, I was Mossy Oaked up, from the top of my head all the way down to my boots, including gloves and face mask. Jack is a real fan of Mossy Oak Break-Up and was covered with that pattern. I tried not to breathe. I really think if I’d been quick enough, I could have grabbed that tom by the head. After he passed by me, he walked in to the decoys. He was at 15-yards from Jack and totally focused on the jake decoy. He was about to start flogging the decoy when Jack took the shot. The broadhead hit the turkey right in the wing butt, and the turkey ran about 50 yards into the field and fell over. 

Day 1: Mossy Oak’s Mike Cockerham Tells about His Strangest Turkey Hunt 

Tomorrow: Taking an After Lunch Osceola Gobbler with Mossy Oak’s Mike Cockerham

Inside Sanctuaries
As the Quality Deer Management philosophy becomes further anchored as the dominant mindset among whitetail hunters, achieving greater numbers of mature bucks is not the hurdle it once was. Instead, there’s another hindrance…killing them. Helping to clear that barrier is the “sanctuary,” a landscape feature that has recently become a familiar part of conversations about hunting tactics, property set-up, and small-acreage management.

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