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.
I was hunting with my friend Randy Leath of Mississippi, who had been hunting with me at Bent Creek Lodge for several years. I always enjoyed hunting with him. I was planning to spend the night at Bent Creek Lodge that night, and on the way to the lodge, I went through the cut-over area where I planned to guide the next morning. I heard some gobblers flying up. I’ve been hunting turkeys for so long that I can tell the difference between a gobbler and a hen flying up. The gobblers have a much-heavier wing beat. After the gobblers flew up, I heard some hens fly up as well. The weatherman was predicting bad weather for the next morning, so I wanted to roost these birds beforehand.
The next morning, we got to the woods before daylight. I put Randy on the front side of a tree, looking in the direction where I expected the turkeys to be. I sat on the back side of the tree, so I could call the turkeys and make them think the hen was 20- or 30-yards behind the tree. As the sky lightened, and the sun promised a good clear day, I heard a turkey drumming in front of me. After turkeys fly up in the late afternoon, they may move from tree to tree after dark. Apparently, that’s what had happened to these turkeys that I had roosted the previous night. After I heard the turkey drum in front of me, I heard another turkey gobble in front of Randy. He whispered, “I can see the turkey 75 or 80 yards in front of me.” I whispered back, “Don’t move. He’ll probably come right to you.” Turkeys don’t walk very fast, so we sat patiently waiting for the gobbler to come within gun range. Occasionally, I heard another turkey drumming in front of me. I thought, “Where is that goofy turkey? I can hear him drumming, but I can’t see him.” We also could hear hens yelping all around us.
Randy was wearing Mossy Oak Bottomland, and I was wearing Mossy Oak’s old Greenleaf pattern. I tree-yelped two or three times, and the turkey in front of Randy gobbled back. Finally, a turkey flew out of the tree right over our heads and landed 20-yards from us. I’m sure that was the turkey I had heard drumming on the limb. Since Randy was facing the other direction, looking at another turkey, he couldn’t see the turkey in front of me. To compound the problem even more, the one in front of me was to Randy’s right, and he was a right-handed shooter. There was no way he could get a shot at this bird. I whispered to Randy, “Be still, and don’t move. There’s a turkey off to your right at 20 steps.”
The turkey in front of me kept getting closer and closer – then was within 10 steps at full strut. He still hadn’t recognized us as hunters, since we were wearing Mossy Oak camouflage and sitting beside a tree that was wider than our shoulders. I kept whispering, “Don’t move. Don’t move.” That turkey was so close to me that I thought I could reach out and touch him before he flew off. He walked past me and around in front of Randy. Randy was shooting one of those long-barrel shotguns back then, and the turkey looked like he was going to have to duck his head to go under Randy’s shotgun barrel. Finally, I whispered, “When that turkey goes behind the little bush in front of you, make your final adjustment to take the shot. Shoot low on the turkey’s neck.” Once you have a gobbler in that close, your pattern doesn’t have a chance to open up. If you aim at the turkey’s head, or, if he moves an inch as you’re squeezing the trigger, you’ll miss him. Randy aimed a little low. When he shot, the sky filled with feathers, just like a down pillow had been split-open. I definitely can say that Randy and I Mossy Oaked that turkey.
To hunt with Bob Walker, contact Bent Creek Lodge at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-398-3040.