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.
Four or five years ago, I spotted a turkey strutting during the mid-morning in an alfalfa field every day of Iowa’s second turkey season. Since he was coming out of a block of timber that we didn’t have permission to hunt, the only place we could set-up was in some foxtail grass along a fence line. The farmer had cut every tree out of the fence line, and there was no really-good spot for me to set-up. I wore Mossy Oak Brush camo and set-up against a fence post. That Brush camo fit right in with the grass where I was sitting. At first light, this turkey gobbled from the tree, like he had every morning, and then flew down. He spent the first 2 hours in the woods with his hens. Between 9:30 and 10:00 am, he slowly moved out into the alfalfa field. He finally spotted the decoys when he was about 200-yards away. I was able to watch him strut and gobble all the way to me.
I didn’t have enough cover to make a blind. Since my Mossy Oak camo was the same color as the grass, and I was leaning up against a fence post, I was hoping I would be invisible. I had my shotgun on my knee and my cheek against the stock and was looking straight down the barrel at the bead. This way I knew I wouldn’t have to move very much when I was ready to shoot. The grass along the fence was only about 2-feet wide and 2-feet tall behind me, but this gobbler never hesitated to come to where I was. My Primos decoys were set-up about 15-yards from me. As the bird was coming in, I called softly to him. Each time I called, he stopped and gobbled, went into a strut and continued to walk straight to me. I was surprised at how quickly the gobbler arrived.
I had a tight choke and didn’t want to let the gobbler get too close before I took the shot. At 20 yards, I got the turkey to stick his head up. I aimed right at the red wattles on his neck and squeezed the trigger. The gobbler took the full load of my pattern. I’ve learned over the years not to aim at the gobbler’s head when you have a bird in that close. I aim for the meaty part of the body and neck, since my pattern will be so tight that I easily may miss the turkey’s head at that range. This gobbler weighed 24 pounds, and he had three beards. I really felt blessed to watch that gobbler perform for 200 yards and knew my Mossy Oak Brush camo had made the difference in the success of my hunt.
Tomorrow: Perry Peterson and the Merriam’s Turkey