The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) auctioned off a turkey hunt, and the person who won it was Jamie Spencer of Franklin, Tenn., the owner of Mossy Oak Properties Tennessee Land & Farm. My brother and Jamie were staying at our lodge, and I had a cancellation on the day they were supposed to turkey hunt. So, I told my brother Butch I’d help him try and get Jamie a turkey. I told Jamie I’d show him a place where I thought he could take a turkey.
I said, “I might not have time to hunt with you, but I’ll show you some of my places where I feel confident you can hear a turkey gobble.”
We went out through the woods to a field I had planted in BioLogic’s Clover Plus, and I saw turkeys out in the clover field.
I told Jamie, “You walk right behind me.”
I pulled a turkey fan out of my turkey vest that had a gobbler’s head on it, put that fan on a stick and pushed the fan out in front of Jamie and me. I put that fan in front of my face - walking half bent over - and Jamie and I started walking toward these turkeys.
Now, it’s important to note here, this was my own private property, and I knew for sure no one else was hunting there. We sort of hid behind that turkey fan in front of us and walked right up to those turkeys. Some of the hens started walking off. The gobbler followed the hens into the woods, but one hen stayed out in the field. We actually walked within 15 yards of her. If she had been a he, Jamie easily could have taken that bird. He was really impressed at how close we could walk right up to that wild turkey hen.
After the hen walked off, I whispered to Jamie, “Now, if you’ll come back to this field this afternoon, those turkeys will come to this field. They love this Clover Plus, and they feed on it.”
So, Jamie and his guide came back to the field that afternoon. He called me on my cell phone and said, “I got him.”
But that’s not the end of the story. Jamie told me there were two gobblers out in the field. The guide called the second gobbler back to the field after Jamie had taken his turkey. Jamie’s guide also got a big gobbler.
On another hunt, I took my grandson Conner Knight. Conner has just turned 20 and attends Murray State University. Conner, who has turkey hunted with me for many years, is about 5 feet 6 inches tall.
I told him, “You’re going to be a great turkey hunter because there’s not as much of you for a turkey to see as a big fellow who’s trying to take a turkey. You can scoot around in the woods and slip up on those turkeys.”
I've planted lots of clover fields, three to four acres in size, on my property. Where I’ve planted these clover fields, turkeys don’t have access to any crop fields. At certain times in the day, the hens will feed out in the clover fields and the gobblers will follow them. We sat down next to one of our clover fields and hadn’t been sitting there very long before a big gobbler walked out into the field. I didn’t call to this turkey. The gobbler was walking toward us, so there was no point in me calling. Most of the turkeys that Conner has taken, I've called to those birds. Conner once sat between my legs when he was just a little fellow, the turkeys would come in, and he’d take them. But he’s too big for that now.
Over the years, Conner has developed into a really good shot. Many times, when a turkey comes in, you may not have but one or two seconds to get off the shot. So, you have to be able to pick the spot you want to shoot and make that shot very quickly. Conner is really good at that.
One mistake that turkey hunters often make is when they see a turkey either in a field or in the woods and that turkey is walking toward them, they’ll call to him. But I don’t do that. I don’t want to alert that turkey to my presence and to where I am. I just sit real still and let that turkey keep coming until he’s about 25 to 30 yards from me. That’s when I take the shot.
As the gobbler started coming to us, when I knew he was within that 25 to 30 yards, I told Conner, “Take him when you’re ready.” My grandson got his gobbler.
One of the things I really like about turkey hunting is that usually no two turkey hunts are just alike. Sometimes you have to call aggressively, and sometimes you have to call softly. At other times, especially when a turkey’s walking to you, you don’t need to call. Sometimes you have to move on a turkey, but then again you may be better off sitting still. Every turkey hunt is different, and each turkey hunting situation is usually different from the last time you’ve gone hunting.
After 61 years of hunting these birds, I realize that building memories is the best part of turkey hunting. By building memories with great friends like Mr. Fox, Toxey Haas and his family and with my family, like I have with my grandsons, Blake and Conner, you always can keep them with you and share them forever.