by Will Primos with John E. Phillips
Editor’s Note: Will Primos, the founder of Primos Hunting, says, “If I had been dipped in Mossy Oak right after I was born, I would have been able to take more critters during my younger days.” Since 1987, Will Primos not only has been a Mossy Oak ProStaffer but also a very close friend of Toxey Haas, the creator and founder of Mossy Oak, and Ronnie Strickland, senior vice president of telelvision and related media for Mossy Oak.
I’ve never called to a turkey that wouldn’t come in within gun range (grin). When I’m doing a turkey-hunting seminar, this statement always is when the crowd breaks into laughter. But I think these words are true. That turkey may not come to me on the day I’m calling to him, but that ole gobbler will come to me or someone else on another day. My number-one rule is when a turkey won’t come to you, back out of the woods, and try to call to him on another day. My second tip is to not get too close to a turkey. I believe when you’re really close to a gobbler, and you’re calling to him, that gobbler thinks, “If you’re already this close, baby, come on.” However, if you set-up a little further from the gobbler and start getting him excited, but aren’t coming to him, he’ll get fired-up and come running to you. On many occasions, I’ve called to turkeys from 100-yards away and then backed up and called again like I was a hen leaving the area and had success.
If you’re calling from the side of a hill, and a turkey is gobbling from the other side, move to the top of the hill. If you’re gobbling like a hen and he’s gobbling back to you, he’ll come to the top of that hill to see you. Old gobblers know that every coyote, fox and bobcat in the woods can hear him gobbling and can hear you calling, so he wants to see any predators that may be between him and the hen he thinks is calling. If a turkey is going up a hill and spots danger, he knows that his legs are the number-one thing that helps him fly. All he has to do is push off, jump up in the air, turn downhill, spread those big wings and sail out of harm’s way in two heartbeats. If you try to call a turkey that’s below you, he probably won’t come. If he does, he’ll try to circle around and get on your level or come in behind you.
Everyone gets fired up about calling turkeys. I make turkey calls, so I want hunters to call to turkeys. But sometimes to get a gobbler within gun range, you don’t need to call to him; you just need to scratch in the leaves like you’re a feeding hen. Another tip is if you hear a hen calling, call back to her with the same call she’s making. That will make her mad, and if she has a gobbler with her, she’ll bring him in while she’s trying to run you off. Sometimes you’ll have a better chance to take a turkey if you don’t call at all. The first time I ever went to Missouri to hunt turkeys, I went through a low place on a ridge where the terrain was mossy, so the sound of my walking was quiet. I had heard a turkey gobble in the direction I was traveling, and once I came out of that mossy place, I stepped into some dry leaves. I only took two steps before the gobbler started to gobble. He wasn’t 50-yards from me on the other side of the ridge. I didn’t move or sit down. I took the safety off my gun and scratched in the leaves with my toe. The turkey gobbled, came up that ridge straight toward me and never gobbled again. Turkeys have two feet just like humans. When you’re walking through the leaves, that sound may be misinterpreted by a gobbler, and he’ll think you’re a turkey.
My Toughest Turkey Ever:
I’ve hunted a lot of tough turkeys in my life, but none were tougher than Old Mossy. Old Mossy lived on a hill covered with Spanish moss in Copiah County, Mississippi. I was hunting with the late Woodrow Dixon on the late Warren Hood’s land. Mr. Hood suggested that I go over and hunt Old Mossy and said, “If you get to the top of the hill and wait until daylight, you’ll hear him gobbling off to your right. He’s managed to whip every turkey hunter that’s gone after him.” I had hunted this farm before, so I knew the road going up the hill was covered in gravel. I parked my truck away from the bottom of the hill before my tires ever touched gravel, and walked up the hill as quietly as I could. The leaves were dry and crunchy. This hill was about 200-yards long with a ridge in it, followed by another ridge before the bottom. I heard the turkey gobble on one of the ridges. Crows came by screaming and cawing, and the turkey didn’t say anything. As the morning brightened, I could see for about 25 yards.
All of a sudden, the turkey gobbled two ridges away. I said to myself, “Will, you have to use your Missouri tactic.” I took two steps in the leaves, scratched with my right foot and walked to the side and scratched in the leaves to sound like a hen that had seen an acorn. I never used a call. I just started walking like a turkey. Next, Old Mossy tore up the woods with his gobbling, but he was still in a tree and wouldn’t fly off the limb. I crossed the first ridge and got to the side of the second ridge. I knew I had to go to the top, down the other side and then back up to get to where Old Mossy was. I sat down, scratched in the leaves a little bit and sat still. Every now and then I’d scratch, and Old Mossy would start gobbling again. Then I heard a racket in the trees, looked up and saw that turkey sailing through the timber in my direction. He landed on a limb to my left, about 15-feet off the ground. Since the gobbler only was about 30-yards away, I squinted, so he couldn’t see my eyeballs and become alerted. His head was bobbing up and down as he looked to both sides, trying to see the hen that was walking in the leaves. He suddenly gobbled, and I kept telling myself, “Will, you have to wait for the right moment. If you turn and try to shoot him, he’ll fly off that limb.” I sat still and was absolutely silent. I knew that gobbler could see any movement I made. Then he jumped out of the tree and landed right next to the trunk. Just before he landed, I started moving my gun toward him, because I knew he couldn’t see me and the ground at the same time. When he hit the ground, he started walking away from me. When he looked back, I fired.
I took Old Mossy that morning, and that was probably the most-exciting hunting moment of my life. I knew I was hunting a tough bird that had been educated by every hunter in the area. I just used the sound of a turkey walking in the woods to get him interested in me. I realized that every time that turkey heard a truck driving up that gravel road, he knew there was danger on top of Moss Hill. You have to hunt tough turkeys in a way no one’s ever hunted them before. Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland says you have to have MRI – most-recent information – to be successful on turkeys If I hadn’t had the most-recent information about the way other hunters were hunting that turkey, I wouldn’t have been able to take him.