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Be Patient When Hunting Turkeys

with Chris Kirby


Editor’s Note: “I was birthed into Mossy Oak,” Chris Kirby, president of Quaker Boy Calls, says. “Right after I was born, my dad, Dick Kirby, was already a Mossy Oak Pro. I can say I was born into Mossy Oak, because that’s the camo I've been wearing ever since, especially during turkey season. I'm a big fan of the Mossy Oak Obsession patterns during the spring of the year, and I really feel blessed to having been a part of the Mossy Oak family all my life.” According to national statistics, between 65 and 70 percent of all outdoor readers are new to the sports they read about, which is especially true of turkey hunters. Often, we forget that we need information for the new people in our sport every year. 

When you watch a turkey hunt on TV, the hunt usually starts and ends in about 20 minutes plus the time needed to run commercials. However, videoing that hunt may have taken 3-4 days or even a week. I think that we should remember that turkey TV shows are condensed versions of a turkey hunt. Sometimes when you hear a tom gobble, you may have to invest 2 weeks of almost getting that turkey before you give him a ride to your house in the back of your pickup truck. 

ChrisKirby_day1Turkeys are one of the most challenging game animals in North America. They have tremendous eyesight and excellent hearing. Sometimes, I believe they have the intuition to know when a hunter is nearby, and they know not to go any farther. Old gobblers and the gobblers that survive until the end of the season often won’t go to a turkey call until they actually see the hen. When a turkey does come in, he'll usually walk slowly, look a lot and listen. So, patience, whether you have it now or whether you develop it after several seasons of turkey hunting, is the most-critical key that enables the most turkey hunters to bag their birds. 

The second-most important ingredient for a young turkey hunter is to learn about the wild turkey. Learn all you can about where turkeys like to roost, the kinds of places they like to walk, the types of food they enjoy eating, and the kinds of places they like to strut and dust. Next, learn the turkey’s vocabulary. Know what they say, why they say it, and when they say it. One of my favorite sayings is, “A successful turkey hunt often only lasts about 2-1/2-minutes after 365 days of preparation.” When a turkey answers your call, don’t be surprised if it takes him 2-1/2-hours to come within gun range. Or, if that turkey is fired-up and close by, he may walk or run into gun range in less than 2-1/2-minutes. 

The real secret to successful turkey hunting year after year is knowing where that turkey is on your property every month of the year, instead of your going out 2 weeks before the season starts, hoping to hear turkeys gobble. As the seasons change, the turkey also switches locations to find different available food. If you begin to log all that information into your computer and into your mind, you'll know where the turkeys are during the spring and the fall. When a turkey gets up in the morning, he doesn’t run down to the grocery store to pick up bacon, eggs and toast. He has to go find that food. By learning where that turkey goes to get his food all year long, you'll be much more successful every time you go turkey hunting, because you can take a stand where you know the turkey wants to come and eat every day of turkey season. 

For more information about turkey hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ Kindle and print book, “Mossy Oak Pros Talk Turkey Tactics,” at and You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or SmartPhone. For a free copy of John E. Phillips’ “The Turkey Gobbler Getter Manual,” go to to download.

Tomorrow: Use a Push Button Call for Your First Turkey Call and Pattern Your Gun

Mossy Oak® Properties touches down in California
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