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.”
I really enjoy turkey hunting, but I don’t like to be limited by a bag limit, so I like to guide. When I guide, I get to control the turkey and the hunter. If I can put that turkey in front of my hunter’s gun barrel, I feel just as successful as I will if I’ve squeezed the trigger myself. If you really enjoy turkey hunting, and you want to hunt as much as you can while the season is in, consider guiding friends, family or novice turkey hunters. I often guide for some of the commercial hunting plantations close to where I live, and I also enjoy guiding my friends.
This year, I had the opportunity to hunt an Osceola gobbler, and we were able to get the hunt on film. I’ve hunted all the different races of wild turkeys, and I believe the Osceola gobbler is more skittish and nervous than other turkeys around the country. They live in fairly-thick habitats, and I believe they may have more predators. Too, these predators have better places to hide in that thick cover, so the Osceola gobbler has to assume that behind every bush is a bobcat or some-other predator that will jump out and eat him. If turkeys spot you, generally most other turkeys will stand where they are and look at you. However, if an Osceola gobbler spots you, he will take off running, usually out to a field or clearing and then look back to see where you are.
The best way to find an Osceola turkey is to talk to a landowner. When I went to hunt this bird, the landowner told me there had been a big gobbler strutting on a high place in a certain 5-acre food plot on his property. He said the bird usually strutted there between 2:00 and 3:00 pm. Roger Petty, who is my filming buddy, and I arrived at the food plot just before 2:00 pm. We made sure to set-up with the sun at our backs, so if a tom came in, he would be looking into the sun. I sat in front of a big pine tree and we put palmetto fans in front of us to create a natural blind. We only had one LCD decoy, made by Zink, out in front of us.
On this hunt, Roger and I both were wearing Mossy Oak Obsession. We felt this pattern blended in the best for the terrain we were hunting. I think saying that Roger has an obsession for the Mossy Oak Obsession pattern is fair. He has his camera and his tripod wrapped in Mossy Oak Obsession and wears a full suit, including headnet and gloves, of Mossy Oak Obsession. However, unlike most videographers, he doesn’t put camo netting over himself and his camera. Roger films for the “Ronnie Smith’s Outdoors” TV show and has been highly successful sitting in the open or with a small ground blind around him to film.
The turkey came out of the woods and walked past us, just out of gun range. We were so well-camouflaged that he didn’t see us. He walked straight to a little rise in the food plot and started strutting. When the turkey passed by us the first time, he didn’t see our decoy. When he got to that rise in the food plot, I started clucking and purring to him. He looked and spotted the decoy. That bird strutted all the way across that 5-acre food plot to get to that decoy. When he came out of his strut at 20 yards, I took him. As I’ve said before, when a decoy is working, there’s no need to call to the gobbler. I don’t use a decoy every time I hunt, but I’ve found clear-cuts and open fields are the best situations for using a decoy. If I’m hunting in the woods, I don’t use a decoy at all.