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The Perfect Turkey Hunt with Mary

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.

wild turkey

Up until the time of this hunt, I never could remember having what I would call a perfect turkey hunt. Turkeys rarely, if ever, did what they were supposed to do. On this hunt, I took my wife Mary, and we went to a small farm that I owned on Monday, March 16, the third day of turkey season that year. The night before the hunt, I told Mary, “I want you to go turkey hunting with me.” Mary agreed to go under one condition. “Will, I don’t want to shoot the bird, but I want to watch you shoot him.” I said yes to the rules Mary had set out for this hunt. 

The next morning, we got up early and went turkey hunting. I had injured my foot several days before, so I was moving slowly. As we walked through the stillness of the before-morning light, we heard a turkey gobble. I looked at Mary, and she smiled and said, “Yes, I heard him.” I whispered, “Well, I think I know where that bird is. We just need to go back to our left and get on the old road there that goes up to the top of the ridge.” Once we reached the top of the ridge, I stood out on a small knoll, looking out over some very steep ravines and hills. 

I’d heard the turkey gobble as we walked to him, and he sounded like he was a pretty good distance from us. However, when I yelped from the knoll, and the turkey gobbled again, I realized he was about 150 yards below us. I couldn’t believe how lucky Mary and I had been to come out above that turkey and call to him. As I mentioned on before, turkeys prefer to come up a hill to a call rather than move down a hill to a call.  

When this tom gobbled, I looked back at Mary. She was standing next to a tree about one step to her left that was wider than her shoulders. She could sit down in front of that tree and with her Mossy Oak camouflage, she’d be invisible. I looked back and saw another tree about 2 yards in front of her that wasn’t quite as big as my shoulders. But it would work for me to sit down in front of the tree to hunt the turkey. I told Mary, “I’m going to sit down here.” 

I realized that not only was the turkey below me but also that an old logging road came right up to me that the gobbler could walk up to come to my calling. I got my gun up on my knee, took out my box call and put my diaphragm turkey call in my mouth. However, before I started calling, that gobbler was gobbling really good – whenever a crow would call or an owl would hoot.  But the tom still hadn’t flown out of the tree yet. I’d called to him 15 minutes earlier. 

Will PrimosI picked up my Tall Timber Gabriel box call and made a fly-down cackle on it like a hen sounds when she’s just pitched out of a tree. The turkey gobbled twice. Thirty seconds later he gobbled once more, and I could tell he’d flown out of his roost tree and now was at the base of the hill where Mary and I were set up. I pointed my gun right down the road, thinking that would be the path he’d come up to meet his hen at the top of the hill. When I was ready to take the shot, I had my mouth call in my mouth, and I clucked and yelped softly on it. In less than four heartbeats, that gobbler was 20 yards from me, standing in the road. I realized I’d only have to move my shotgun 6 inches to take the shot. 

While I was trying to determine how I’d move my shotgun 6 inches without spooking the turkey, he gobbled so hard and so loudly I thought he might blow off my hat.  Before he finished his gobbling, I swung my gun that 6 inches I needed to make a clean shot. Once the tom spotted my gun moving, he stuck his head straight up to see better what that movement was. I squeezed the trigger, and the gobbler dropped into a heap of feathers. 

When I got up to go and get the turkey, Mary said, “Why did you say that?” “Say what?” I asked. Mary told me, “Well, you said, ‘I can’t believe this,’ when you shot the bird.” I looked at Mary and said, “I can’t believe this. Without question, this hunt was the most perfect one I’ve ever been on in my life. The gobbler did everything he was supposed to do, when he should do it, and ended up right where I wanted him to be.”  

What Will Primos Learned from the Mary Gobbler:

  • Sometimes a tom will gobble like the Mary Gobbler did while you’re walking into the woods and let you know where he is. 
  • You may not know exactly which tree the turkey is in, but you may find he’s close by when you call the first time. 
  • You need to find trees to sit by. 
  • Sometimes a gobbler will walk to you if a woods road is nearby. 
  • A perfect turkey hunt is possible sometimes. If a bird goes down, you need to relish and remember that moment forever, since it will be the salve that soothes your feelings every time a turkey doesn’t do what he’s supposed to do, and you don’t harvest him.

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