provided by John E. Phillips
Scott Sharp of Lebanon, Tennessee, a Mossy Oak Pro Staff member since 2013, hunts whitetails with a bow, a rifle and a muzzleloader, and during turkey season, he hunts with a shotgun. He and his brother D.W. have discovered a way to have their outdoor cake and eat it too. Scott explains, “We buy small properties, improve them for hunting, hunt them for 1-2 years and then sell them for a profit.”
What’s the turkey population on your properties?
Sharp: The 56 acres we own homes so many spring gobblers you can’t stir them with a stick – sometimes as many as 40 turkeys will be there with perhaps seven or eight of those gobblers and the rest hens. But we’ve never seen a single turkey on the 15-acre tract before. However, the spring of 2020, I got trail camera photos of a hen with poults on the 15 acres. I can’t tell you how excited that makes me feel that we’ve done enough work that the turkeys have found our 15 acres – or least one hen has – and started a family there. On the 40 acres, I’ve spotted as many as six or seven gobblers this past spring of 2020.
How many gobblers will you and your brother take off these properties in the spring of 2021?
Sharp: Well, I’m sorry to say that I can’t get D.W. to hunt turkeys. D.W. is an unbelievable deer hunter. I told him, “D.W., I think you’ve got a gene missing somewhere.” D.W. and I tournament fished for a long time together. But once I discovered turkey hunting and learned how to do it, I completely gave up my spring fishing for turkey hunting. My mother once asked me, “Scott, what is it about turkeys that pulls you off the water and into the woods each spring, so that you’re not fishing with your brother anymore?” I told her, “Mom, when I learned to call in turkeys, I guess you just had to put a fork in me as far as springtime fishing was concerned, because I was done with it, once I started turkey hunting.
In Tennessee, up until 2020, we could take four gobblers each year. But this year, in 2021, the state has cut us back, so that we only can take three gobblers. In 2020, I only harvested one longbeard. I don’t know why the turkeys weren’t on our lands in the 2020 spring like they had been every year. I’d always limited out on turkeys on our properties before. But in 2020, we didn’t have the number of turkeys we’d had in years past.
But in 2021, I’m dedicating myself to only hunting with a .410 shotgun for turkeys. I took one of my birds in 2019 with a .410, shooting TSS shotshells. I just love to call to turkeys and get them in close enough to take one with a .410. Having to get the bird in very close and having fewer birds to hunt are factors that seemed to wreck my season last year.
However, I know as they always do, the turkeys will come back. On all three properties we hunt, we have everything those birds need to be happy, including food, water, nesting sites and bugging sites. We’ve learned that being a Mossy Oak GameKeeper and managing the land for wildlife not only creates more deer and turkeys for us to see and hunt but also more buyers who want to buy our lands.