I seen a few turkeys… once

By Larry Dablemont, Contributing Columnist
Posted 4/12/23

I hunted wild gobblers for 50 years… but no more. The first hunt I went on was in the Ouachita Mountains in 1970 at a place called Muddy Creek WMA with an Arkansas Fish and Game biologist by …

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I seen a few turkeys… once


I hunted wild gobblers for 50 years… but no more. The first hunt I went on was in the Ouachita Mountains in 1970 at a place called Muddy Creek WMA with an Arkansas Fish and Game biologist by the name of Gene Rush. Heckuva turkey hunter and a great guy. Hunting in four states since then I have killed a lot of turkeys, many times six or seven per year, and guiding other hunters for many years, the 70s, 80s and 90s, I made a lot of money out of wild turkeys by doing that. But brother, there were a lot of turkeys back then.

I quit guiding hunters about twenty years ago, and I quit hunting three years ago when I began to see the numbers of wild gobblers take a nosedive. I will hunt them “no more forever” as the old Indian Chief said. But I have to admit I called up and shot two just a few days ago; shot them with my camera… which I enjoy just as much as I ever did, shooting at them with my old twelve-gauge. You other hunters would too. No lugging them back, no gutting and skinning, no giving money to a corrupt state agency in buying tags. And turkeys from the grocery store are cheap if you gotta eat one. I like baloney about as well. You  can see several of my gobbler photos at www.larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com.

I wrote one book about turkey hunting 20 years ago. If you haven’t read it, contact me and I will inscribe one to you. I am going to write another in a year or so; with some of the darndest photos you have ever seen. And experiences. I have seen some of the most unbelievable things happen in the spring woods you can imagine.

I got one of them occurrences on a movie camera about 1993, I think. I was on a hillside in southern Missouri listening to three or four gobblers on the roost across a small creek bottom. They flew down, but while gobbling a lot, they didn’t come to my call. But 20 minutes later a non-gobbling tom came strutting up to me. He had a nice beard, but half of his tail was missing. He was a half-tailed gobbler. I was just calling with my mouth, imitating a hen without any call, something I learned to do many years before. I began filming him when he was about 20 feet away, stomping and strutting and drumming, but never gobbling. Calling softly and quietly I got him all shook up and he decided there was an invisible hen before him. And then he began to mate with that hen he was sure was there!! He really did, and completed the task. I have it all on film.

I killed a monstrous 21-pound gobbler once with seven beards totaling 49 inches with one-inch spurs, and have photos to show it. In fact there is a picture of him in that book of mine. I was laid out in the leaves, calling in ticks, about noon, with the warm sun shining down, when he awakened me. There were two of them. I like to think his partner had eight beards!

But here is something I have never written about. You might figure out why. You ain’t gonna believe this! One morning about ten o’clock I heard a lot of gobbling about a mile away so I walked about halfway and called and the hillside rattled with their answering gobbles. I moved closer and found the most accommodating brushpile there ever was, about 150 yards from them. I got hid really well behind a clump of multiflora rose with some saplings in it. Was I ever hid… though one foot stuck out in front a couple of feet.

I called and three gobblers came easing up to see where the hen was, strutting and blowing and magnificent. In no time they were before me, and, to use an expression my old mentor Clyde Trout often used, “I uncapped his head.”

The other two just instantly jumped on that thrashing tom beside them and gave him what-for for a good three minutes. When he lay still, they just stood there like they didn’t know what to do. So I called and here they came, up to about 10 feet away, where they seemed to be seeing who could gobble the best. Now I know that many times readers have thought I was a doggone liar, but this is the truth and I will swear to it in court!! Those two gobblers walked up to me and gobbled right in my face, again and again and again. I was frozen, looking right down their throats; and one actually stepped on my boot. I can say this… gobblers have a rather unsmell-good breath, and a gobble at that closeness is really different; a rattling, loud variant of what you hear that sounds entirely different when it is 100 yards away.

I guess while they were searching for that hen in the brushpile, they each gobbled six or eight times. In about five minutes that morning they gave up and wandered away, wondering. I was a little relieved. Two 20 pound tom turkeys appeared to be capable of flogging and spurring me good should revenge be on their mind.

Well, come next Sunday at our fish fry at the Brown Hill Church out east of Houston, Mo. I will tell some more stories about turkey hunting, and give away some of my homemade turkey calls and show folks how to make and use them. Church service is at 11 a.m. and the dinner starts at noon. If it rains, then we will postpone it one week.

Just let me know if you are coming. I need to know how many fish to bring, and how many turkey calls.

Office phone is 417-777-5227 and the email address is lightninridge47@gmail.com.


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