O'Neill Williams with Turkey

O’Neill Williams with Eastern Wild Turkey

So, you’re an Eastern Wild Turkey hunter. Just starting or a seasoned veteran? Doesn’t matter.  My message to you is applicable whatever your status. Before getting to the guts of my dissertation today, let me establish that the Eastern bird’s numbers have been declining rather dramatically over the last 10 years. Why?  Well, a combination of things: natural birthing changes, increase in predators, loss of habitat, over-hunting, untimely weather – lot’s of circumstances and much too long to discuss here. Trust the words of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the poult production is about half of what it was 20 years or so ago. We just don’t have as many Easterns as we did and the DNR is making changes that will help in upcoming seasons.

The point of this discussion today is this: I’m about to give you the reasons why the Eastern Wild Turkey is the No. 1 big game animal in North America. Why? Well, you must be talented, practiced, experienced, knowledgeable, more patient and note more details in more different tactics in combination at the same time than for any other game animal. Let’s take a look.

You make a call like a lonely turkey hen and get a response from a Tom and your call is not just an attractant as a matter of fact, it’s opposite of the animal’s practice.  Your hen call is an answer to his call. You can call deer, elk, mule deer, moose, ducks and then they are naturally attracted to you. The Eastern’s natural practice is for you to come to him. No other game animal does this. Are you practiced enough to call in a manner that recognizes and matches his mood?  You need to understand that requirement and that necessitates a mountain of experience and time in the woods.

Are you cameoed up and ultra stealthy? The Eastern’s eyesight is unsurpassed. Display an unusual color or move the slightest and it will see you and the hunt is over. He is not naturally curious and if the situation is not perfect and what he expects, he promptly departs.

Shot placement matters. You can shoot ducks and quail on the wing but if you don’t correctly place your shot on the Tom, he’ll likely fly or trot away. As the premier “Turkey Writer” in the business today, Tom Kelley, would say, a misplaced shot is simply food for wild cats and you return to camp alone.

OK, my challenge to you is for you to put the parts together and see if any other big game animal requires so much at the same time, same day, same minute, same hour.

If you’re into hunting Easterns, stick with it, if not, start, but recognize that you’ve accepted quite a job, one unmatched in the sport of Big Game hunting in North America.

Photo: courtesy O’Neill Outdoors