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A Memorable Hunt for a First-Time Turkey Hunter

Twenty-year-old Hunter Wallis of Greenfield Township, Pennsylvania, started hunting turkeys when he was 4 years old and won the 2018 Intermediate Division of the National Wild Turkey Federation Grand National Calling Contest.  This was the last year for him to compete in the Intermediate Division. He won the Intermediate Division four times, and the Junior Division three times in the Grand Nationals. He also won the Senior Division of the U.S. Open, the World Junior Championship, the World Intermediate Championship, the Pennsylvania State Open in both the Junior and Intermediate Divisions, and the Open Pennsylvania Championship three times. 

Hunter Wallis | Mossy Oak ProStaff

Josh Grossenbacher and Hunter Wallis

One of my most memorable hunts was in the 2017 turkey season. My friend and fellow Mossy Oak ProStaffer Josh Grossenbacher came up here to Pennsylvania to hunt with me. We enjoy being together as much as we do hunting. Josh has been turkey hunting most of his life, but his dad, Bruce Grossenbacher, had never turkey hunted. For the last couple of years, Bruce had been trying to take a turkey without being successful. So, in 2017, Josh brought Bruce from Ohio up to Pennsylvania to hunt with me. I'd gone to Josh’s house and worked on calls. I'd known Bruce ever since I was a young kid. Josh and I decided we’d work together to get Bruce his first-ever gobbler. 

Josh set up in one place, and I set up in another close to Bruce, and we started yelping back and forth to each other. We put out a jake decoy. The turkey was behind a little knoll. As we called, that gobbler came up behind that knoll and started walking for the jake decoy, and Bruce took the shot. 

Seeing Bruce so excited about finally bagging a gobbler after two years of trying, knowing that his son was taking gobblers every season, and with turkey hunting and turkey calling being so special to both Josh and I, made that hunt one I’ll never forget. I think, too, it’s because I had known Bruce and Josh for so many years, and they had been so special to me. Having the opportunity to help Josh get Bruce his first gobbler was just a hunt I never will forget. I've taken a lot of youngsters hunting, too, and seen them get their first gobblers, but there were so many different reasons and so many memories involved in this hunt that for me it was a hunt of a lifetime. 

One of the most effective ways to bag a longbeard is to have two callers calling. Anytime you’ve got a really good caller hunting with you, and you can sound like two different hens close to each other, but not standing shoulder to shoulder, you can paint a more realistic scene in a gobbler’s mind of two lady turkeys both trying to call in a gobbler at the same time to the same place. An old gobbler just can’t stand still when he's got two ladies talking to each other and talking to him at the same time. If you don’t want to get that aggressive with your calling, you can have both hunters giving clucking, purring and feeding sounds like two hens that are fairly close together that seem to be disinterested when a gobbler is talking to them. 

I think one of the advantages that I have in the woods and in competition calling is that I believe that the turkey sounds that I make with my diaphragm call are just a little bit different from the turkey sounds that the judges or the gobblers hear from other callers. One of the things I try to do is sweeten my calls up with some soft calls that maybe everyone else doesn’t do. I try to make my calls as realistic as possible. So, being different and trying to sound as much like a wild turkey hen as I can, I believe pays dividends in the woods when I'm hunting and on the calling stage when I'm competing.

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