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The Hunt for Mr. Moss Turkey with Will Primos

provided by John Phillips

Will Primos of Flora, Mississippi, has been a Mossy Oak ProStaffer since the beginning of Mossy Oak nearly 35 years ago and is the creator of Primos Hunting. Will was in one of Toxey Haas’s first ads for Mossy Oak camouflage and probably has been wearing Mossy Oak camouflage longer than most anyone, except Toxey, the founder of Mossy Oak. Will Primos shares about what turkeys have taught him and the hunts from which he’s learned the most. Will has hunted all the species of turkeys in the U.S and Mexico and in just about all the states.

Will Primos turkey

This hunt also took place in Copiah County, Mississippi, as the Lewis hunt did - on some private property Mr. Hood owned. The morning I was to hunt on Mr. Hood’s land, I got to the big house, and Mr. Hood asked, “Will, where are you gonna hunt today?” 

I smiled and told him, “Wherever you tell me to hunt, Mr. Hood. Tell me where you want me to go, and that’s where I’ll hunt.” 

Mr. Hood smiled and said, “Well, we’ve got an ole turkey on Moss Hill that none of us have been able to take. So, I’m gonna give that Mossy Hill turkey to you.” I thought to myself, “Well, here we go – I know when someone has a named turkey that no one can take, that they’ll want me to hunt and take that tom. I’ll have a bad bird to fight that morning on Moss Hill, so I named him Mr. Moss Turkey.
I asked Mr. Hood to tell me about the Moss Hill Turkey, what he knew about the bird, and what he thought I’d have to do to try and take that tom. 

“Will, Moss Hill is so steep, that we had to put gravel down on the road to drive our truck all the way to the top of the hill,” Mr. Hood said. “Once you reach the top of the hill, that turkey will gobble to you off the finger ridge to the right. He gobbles really well, and every morning we hunt him, we go to the top of that ridge, hear him gobble, try and set up on him, but he never will come to us.”

I started thinking about what Mr. Hood had told me about the Moss Hill Turkey, and I decided that turkey was listening to that truck drive up that gravel road each morning, heard it when it stopped on top of the hill and quickly after that heard a hen yelp from about the same location. So, the next morning, I went to Moss Hill, parked the truck at the bottom of the hill and walked up to the top of the hill as quietly as possible, staying out of the leaves and off the gravel road. 

Once I reached the top of the hill, and just at about the right time, Mr. Moss Turkey gobbled. I waited until a short time after fly-down time before I decided to move on Mr. Moss Turkey. I walked down Moss Hill, headed to that finger of woods where Mr. Moss Turkey had been gobbling. I wasn’t strolling through the woods like many hunters do. I walked like a turkey. I’d take a few steps, stop and scratch in the leaves with my right foot before continuing. I wanted to sound like a hen turkey moving toward Mr. Moss Turkey that was scratching in the leaves as she went to him. 

gobbling turkeyOnce Mr. Moss Turkey heard me walking like that, he went berserk. He was gobbling with almost every breath. When I got behind the ridge, and I knew he was on the other side of the ridge, I set up. Then when Mr. Moss Turkey reached the top of the ridge, he’d be within my gun range. I realized Mr. Moss Turkey would have to pitch off the limb and slowly walk up that mountain, if he came looking for me. I pointed my shotgun right at the direction from where the gobbling was coming. I didn’t yelp or make any turkey sound except every now and then, I reached my hand off to one side or the other and scratched in the leaves some. 

Although Mr. Moss Turkey gobbled and gobbled and gobbled, he wouldn’t fly out of the tree. After about 15 minutes of my not calling and only scratching in the leaves, Mr. Moss Turkey flew from his roost tree, sailed about 10 feet above the ridge and landed in another tree 30 yards to my left on a limb about 20 feet off the ground. Because I’m right handed, I knew if I took a shot at Mr. Moss Turkey that I’d have to swing and get off the shot quickly. I didn’t turn my head but kept straining my eyes to my left to watch Mr. Moss Turkey in the tree, knowing I couldn’t move. Mr. Moss Turkey was looking intently for the hen and then gobbled like he was mad at the world. I still didn’t move. He gobbled again, and I still didn’t move. Finally Mr. Moss Turkey jumped off that limb and gave me time enough to swing my gun and take the shot, just as he landed right at the bottom of that tree and tried to straighten himself up. I knew that was a risky shot, but since there was no cover between me and Mr. Moss Turkey, I felt comfortable taking the shot.

What Will Primos Learned from Mr. Moss Turkey:

  • A turkey doesn’t have to get up every morning and go to work. He makes a living by using his eyes, his ears and his instincts. He doesn’t think like a human. But he does start associating a hen’s yelping with a predator going to that hen. He also associates gobbling with predators coming to eat a gobbling turkey. He knows where he can gobble safely and the places he needs to avoid and learns that if he hears a hen yelping or calling in any way and can’t see that hen, then danger is present. 
  • A named turkey is always a problem. One of the best ways to take that turkey is try to learn everything you can about how everyone else has hunted that bird, and what they’ve already taught that turkey about staying away from hunters. Then you can develop a hunt plan that doesn’t use any routes someone else has traveled to reach that turkey and not make any of the calls others have made previously calling to that named turkey. Do make turkey sounds like walking like a turkey and scratching in the leaves to let that bird know you’re coming to him or that you’re feeding close to him but if he wants to mate with you, he’ll have to come to where you are.

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