This weekend, fathers who take their kids turkey hunting on the Youth Hunt, may have a rough time calling in gobblers. It is a very late spring season, and all the turkeys I see are in large flocks. You may see 6 or 7 gobblers all huffed up and strutting, but they are in groups of 20 or 30 hens or more. In such situations, they do not gobble much, and they have little interest in a call, no matter how good you are at it. Even grizzled old veteran turkey hunters like me can’t get them to move much when they are looking at those gorgeous hens only a few yards away.
Sometimes when you have a situation like what we have now, they break up a little toward noon, and it is easier to call in a gobbler at that time of day. But sometimes it is easier to ambush one from a blind built somewhere, where gobblers fed on scattered corn back in the winter. Youth hunting is best done from very well-concealed blinds where a kid can move around a little and point a gun without being seen.
After I wrote the article making light of the wild turkey “grand slam feat” Ms. Wiggins got a call from a hunter who was irate that I would write such a thing.
But I stand behind what I said; bragging about achieving a grand slam is absolute silliness, as is the idea of ‘scoring’ wild gobblers. Eastern wild gobblers are pretty easy to kill any time by true outdoorsman who knows what he is doing. As a turkey hunting guide in the 70’s and 80’s, I never had any trouble getting a turkey for clients in Arkansas or Missouri. And the Rio Grand gobblers of the flat country in west Kansas and Oklahoma are pushovers. I say this as someone who has hunted them often. The Merriam’s gobblers in Nebraska which I saw year after year, were darn close to being tame. I use to call up Merriam’s gobblers with my mouth while hunting ducks up there in the sandhill’s waterholes. There were not many trees, and each rancher had a grove of pines or cottonwoods around his home. That’s where the turkeys roosted and they became a pest.
Honestly, if you are going to brag about a “grand slam” in turkey hunting, you should try to achieve an Ozark river “grand slam”… a largemouth bass, a smallmouth bass, a Kentucky bass and a rock bass all on the same float trip. Or try for an Ozark lakes grand slam… a green sunfish, a bluegill, a long-ear sunfish and a crappie on the same fishing trip. Originally, back when I was a kid, the outdoor magazines wrote about the “grand slam” of big game hunters in the west. It could consist of any four “trophies” from the Rocky Mountains, out of mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, antelope and mountain goat. Each had to have big horns or antlers of course.
Influenced by those magazines, I had several duck hunting “grand-slams” on the river with my dad when I was about thirteen… a mallard, a wood-duck, a gadwall and any other species in one day, maybe even a coot. I got over that kind of thinking when I grew up. Anyone who tries to make other hunters think he is a great turkey hunter by killing Rio-Grands or Merriam’s gobblers is still a little bit juvenile.
Men should hunt to enjoy the challenge, to enjoy the outdoors, to enjoy the meat.
No wild creature should be deemed a ‘trophy’. If you take a youngster hunting this week, impress that upon him.
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