I've learned that every turkey I hunt, whether I take him or he fools me, teaches me something. Over the years, I guess one of the most important lessons I've learned is that turkeys don’t really care which calls that you think sound the best. They only care about the calls they want to hear. If you don’t give those gobblers the calls they want to hear, regardless of whose turkey call you're using, or how great of a turkey caller you think you are, they won’t talk to you. I've also learned that if a turkey doesn’t want to gobble, often you just can’t make him gobble. The man who figures out how to make a turkey gobble when he doesn’t want to gobble will become a millionaire.
My cousin, Gary Keefer, who is also a Mossy Oak Pro, is the person I've probably hunted turkeys with the most. Gary owns Mountain State Camo Dipping Company and is licensed by Mossy Oak to put camo wrappings on guns and other equipment. Gary and I really enjoy hunting with muzzleloaders. After a few trips, when both of us carried muzzleloaders, we decided that we’d have more fun and take more turkeys if we took a muzzleloading shotgun and a 3- or a 3-1/2-inch 12-gauge shotgun. Once that muzzleloader shotgun fires, there’s a big cloud of smoke in front of you, and you can’t see anything. We decided that the hunter with the 12-gauge would shoot first when we had a turkey coming in, and the hunter with the muzzleloader would shoot second. This way, we often could take two turkeys at one spot. To date, I believe we've taken seven doubles since we've been hunting together.
One of our funniest hunts occurred on a ridge when we heard two turkeys gobbling. Within 30 minutes after they started gobbling, we had two toms strutting on a little bench below us. When Gary and I hunt, the person with the muzzleloading shotgun sits on the backside of the tree, and the hunter with the 12-gauge sits on the front side of the tree. When Gary spotted those two gobblers below us, he coached me as to when to move to slide around the tree and be on the same side of the tree as he was. Gary whispered, “You're sitting in an awkward position. Do you want to go ahead and take the first shot?” I replied, “No, you go ahead and shoot first. I’ll try and scoot around a little bit more and shoot the second bird.” When Gary took the first shot, the bird just collapsed in a pile of feathers. Once that bird dropped, the second gobbler jumped on the dead bird and started kicking him. As soon as the second bird took a pause in his attack, I fired. Both birds soon were lying side-by-side.
Any time I'm buddy hunting, either my buddy or me will be sitting on the backside of the tree after clearing out the leaves around the tree where we’re planning to set-up, so one of us can slide around the tree to face the turkeys that are coming without making any noise, for:
- safety. If the person on the backside of the tree spots another hunter approaching, he can signal the other hunter or say, “Another hunter is over there;”
- the ability to see or hear when a bird comes sneaking in behind you, when you’re calling a turkey in front of you.
Another thing that made this hunt unusual was when I slid around the tree, because I was a little bit out of position, my muzzleloader was resting on Gary’s knee. His 12-gauge was on his left knee, and my muzzleloader was on his right knee before he took his shot. So after he shot, I only had to move a little to get my gun off his knee and make the second shot.