Editor’s Note: Bob Walker of Livingston, Alabama, is a Mossy Oak pro, an avid, longtime turkey hunter and a Turkey THUG. He has hunted and guided for turkeys most of his life. For the past 29 years, Walker has been a guide at Bent Creek Lodge in Jachin, Ala.
On the first week in April, 2013, my 13-year-old daughter McKenzie, and my wife Alice, were scheduled to turkey hunt with me. McKenzie loves to turkey hunt, but she also plays softball, so we don’t get to hunt together very often. My wife suggested she’d go with us on this weekend. When we walked out of our home before daylight, we looked like a Mossy Oak Obsession parade. All three of us were wearing the same pattern of Mossy Oak camouflage. We went to a place where a timber crew had been thinning timber. Most turkey hunters won’t go into an area where timber is being cut, but actually the noise and the tree cutting probably bother hunters more than they do turkeys. I knew this particular tract of land hadn’t been cut in 2 days, and some turkeys lived there. We got out of the truck and walked to the area, and turkeys started gobbling. I wanted to get McKenzie and Alice close to the turkey before he flew down. When we finally set-up, we were probably less-than 20-yards from that turkey. We were right on the edge of an old woods road. I knew that tom couldn’t see us, since there were some small pines between us. I told McKenzie to get ready to shoot. The gobbler was on the ground, and I planned to tree call to him. He gobbled back to me. I tree called the second time very quietly, and the turkey fired back a gobble. I don’t like to call very often to a turkey that’s just come off the roost, because he’ll be looking hard for the hen that’s called to him or for a predator coming to the hen.
We backed up across the woods road and set-up there. Then I called to the bird, and he gobbled. The second time I called to him, he was a little closer. Since McKenzie could hear better than I could, I whispered, “If you hear something walking through the leaves, get your gun up, and point it in that direction.” In a few seconds, McKenzie whispered, “I hear something.” She turned and pointed her gun to the left. I turned my head to the left, cupped my hand over my mouth and yelped quietly but excitedly. This time, the turkey gobbled right in front of McKenzie. She moved her gun around to point it in front of her. Once she had the gun still, resting on her knee, the gobbler came out of the low timber. He stepped out in the middle of the road, no more than 16-steps from McKenzie. She busted that gobbler with her little 20-gauge Mossberg Mossy Oak-patterned shotgun.
After the bird was down, we hugged, high-fived and shot pictures. As we walked back toward the truck, Alice, said, “You know, it’s kind of early.” I knew what she meant. I said, “Okay, I know it’s still early. We’ll go look for a turkey for you to hunt.” We put McKenzie’s turkey in the back of the truck and moved to another place. I hadn’t heard a turkey in that section of land all year, but we hadn’t been out of the truck 5 minutes before a turkey gobbled when I yelped. I was thinking to myself, “Finding a gobbler this quickly is just too good to be true.” As we moved in on the turkey, he gobbled again. Since I knew the land, I realized this gobbler had come out of a hollow that normally would have been a problem to hunt.
We set-up, and I called to the bird, but he didn’t answer me. We were all quiet. Then McKenzie whispered, “I hear something coming off to the right.” I told Alice to get her gun up and point it toward the right. By the time she had her cheek on the stock, the turkey had appeared within easy gun range, but Alice didn’t shoot. I whispered, “Shoot the turkey.” However, she couldn’t shoot, because the turkey was standing behind a small sapling that was blocking his head and neck. When a turkey is coming in, I always put my hand up close to my mouth when I’m using a diaphragm turkey call to muffle the call or throw it to the side to get the turkey in front of the shooter. I threw my call very quietly to the right. Finally, the turkey strutted and walked to the right. Alice got a shot and took that turkey at 31 steps. I was as proud of my family as I could be. Both my daughter and my wife had bagged longbeard gobblers on the same day, before noon.
When I told the story to one of my friends, he said, “Since your luck was that good, why didn’t you try to take a turkey on the same morning?” I smiled back and answered, “I know when to hold them, and I know when to fold them. After having that much luck in one morning, I decided to fold them.” I didn’t want to push my luck and try and take a third bird. That hunt is one I never will forget.