Editor’s Note: Bob Walker of Livingston, Alabama, a Mossy Oak turkey pro, also is one of the hosts on the Mossy Oak “Turkey THUGS” TV show. Walker has been a turkey hunting guide at Bent Creek Lodge in Jachin, Ala., for more than 30 years and has hunted turkeys his entire life. Walker believes if you know what the turkey knows, then you can take more toms.
I've been hunting turkeys all my life, and I feel comfortable that I know quite a bit about turkeys and turkey hunting. However, I’ve realized that the most-important thing I know about turkeys is that they teach me something different every day that I hunt them. They can’t read, they can’t watch television, and therefore they don’t know what they're supposed to do. One of the biggest mistakes that most veteran turkey hunters make is that they believe they know everything there is to know about turkey hunting. I truly believe that the Good Lord created wild turkeys to keep turkey hunters humble. Turkeys are constantly changing, moving and doing things that you haven’t known they can do or may do. That’s why a turkey hunter is always on a lifelong, continuous-education program about turkey hunting.
I remember the first time the property I hunt was clear-cut. I said to myself, “Bob, you'll never kill a turkey on that clear-cut property.” Later, I learned that turkeys love clear-cuts, because clear-cuts have young, nutritious plants growing on them. If the clear-cut has been burned, the burn exposes seeds that have been under the leaf litter that turkeys love. Turkeys love clear-cuts too because they can see in every direction, they can spot predators approaching them, their hens easily can find and see them, and they can pick the hens with which they want to mate. Turkeys really love a cutover.
But just about the time I thought I knew how to hunt turkeys in a clear-cut, they started doing things I never thought they would do. That’s why I try to learn something about turkeys and turkey hunting every time I go turkey hunting. There are so many variables in turkey hunting and individual turkeys that I don’t believe someone possibly can learn all there is to know about turkey hunting in three lifetimes. In Alabama where I primarily hunt, this season spring has been late arriving. We haven’t had much sunshine, and turkeys have been holding in thick places. I've found turkeys in places so thick I couldn’t understand how they got inside those spots. From the lessons I’ve learned this spring, when I hear a turkey gobble in a place I’ve never thought about hunting, I’ve learned not be surprised. Also, don’t be surprised where you have to set-up to try to call to that turkey. I've learned that sometimes I have to spend more time than usual getting to a turkey that’s in a difficult area, but I’d rather crawl through briars or wade a creek to reach a spot where I hear a turkey gobbling than to spend the rest of the day walking around in the woods, hoping to find a turkey gobbling.
My client and I hunted a turkey the third week of turkey season this spring of 2015 that was right out in the middle of a big thicket. Much to my surprise that turkey walked through cover so thick I didn’t think I could crawl through it. The turkey had to come through a 25-year-old pine plantation that had recently been fertilized and was full of briars and thick undergrowth. I told my hunter, “This makes no sense. At this time of year, a turkey gobbler shouldn’t be in cover this thick - but he is.”
In situations where I have to hunt a turkey in thick cover, I’ve also learned that the turkey is not going to arrive at our stand site as quickly as a turkey in open woods will. Also as he comes to you, the tom in the thicket won’t gobble as much as a turkey in open woods, because he can’t see predators as well in that thick cover as he can in more open terrain.
To get a free turkey eBook, “The Turkey Gobbler Getter Manual,” go to http://johninthewild.com/free-books.