Editor’s Note: Chris Kirby is the president of Quaker Boy Calls, produces the Mossy Oak Turkey Thugs calls and has won the World Turkey Calling Championship. As a youngster, Chris trailed along behind his dad, Dick Kirby, who started Quaker Boy Calls, when they hunted. He never remembers a spring when he wasn’t in turkey woods. From the beginning of turkey season in Florida until the end of turkey season in New York, Chris will be wearing Mossy Oak camouflage, hunting turkeys in the spring woods every day – and for sure in the mornings.
Turkey hunting in the spring is not only my passion, it’s also my job. Each spring, I hunt with outdoor writers, store owners, dealers and distributors who buy and sell Quaker Boy Calls. One of the best ways to sell turkey calls is to call up the turkey with the calls we make at Quaker Boy for the people who sell our calls, or, for the outdoor writers and TV hosts who write about and video us using our calls. When you're going turkey hunting with a person you’ve never hunted with before, you don’t know what their level of expertise is, or what they know about turkey hunting.
This past season, I was hunting in Texas and was having a tough time calling turkeys. We were seeing a lot of gobblers. But for some reason, those turkeys just wouldn’t come to the call. I'm not a big proponent of trying to crawl to a turkey and take him. However, on this hunt, I discovered there was nothing I could do to make turkeys come to the call. I was hunting with a customer who owns an archery shop that I’d never hunted with before. When we saw this turkey strutting out in the field, the archery shop owner said, “I think I can crawl to that turkey and get a shot.” We were sitting on a little rise. To get to the turkey, the archery shop owner had to go down in a ditch, crawl out of the ditch onto the edge of the field and then crawl on his belly to get out to the turkey. I know that turkeys have extremely-good eyesight, and a hunter is much more likely to spook a turkey than he is to get a shot, if he tries to crawl out into an open field and get in close enough to down a gobbler. Through my binoculars, I watched my hunter attempt to approach the turkey in a way that I was pretty sure wasn’t going to work, but this was his hunt, and I wanted him to have a good time.
Win or lose he'd have a story to tell when we returned to camp about how he had tried to crawl up on a gobbler in an open field. To keep the turkey interested in me, so he wouldn’t be looking for my hunter, I kept calling to the turkey, and he continued to gobble. All of a sudden, the turkey dropped his head and started running toward my hunter, who was flat on the ground. I could see my hunter through my binoculars and the full fan of a turkey gobbler almost right on top of my hunter in the grass. You never know how a hunter will deal with the pressure of having a wild turkey gobbler almost within arm’s reach. I didn’t know whether my hunter would remain flat and let the turkey step over his head or would jump up and shoot the turkey as the bird ran off - which never worked. As I watched, I realized that this hunter had nerves of steel. He didn’t panic, and that gobbler walked past him, no more than 2 feet away. Then when the turkey was about 4 feet from the hunter and looking away, my hunter brought his gun up and shot the gobbler.
This definitely was the most-exciting, thrilling hunt I ever had been on, even though I wasn’t the shooter. When my hunter told me he was going to crawl on this gobbler, my first instinct was, “This tactic is never going to work!” When I saw that turkey running straight for my hunter, who was face-down on the ground, once again, I thought, “This is never going to work!” When I saw the turkey walk 4 feet past my hunter, and the hunter got his gun to his shoulder and shot the turkey, I said to myself, “I can’t believe this technique worked!” This hunt was one of the most-awesome, unbelievable turkey hunts I ever had been on, and this guy I’d never hunted with before showed me a winning strategy that I'd never seen produce a gobbler in my entire turkey-hunting career. But once again, this hunt just proves to me you never know what will happen on a turkey hunt, or what you'll learn from a person you’ve never hunted with previously.