Photo/James Pugh

Gobble, gobble. The 2019 Spring Turkey season is among us. 

Every hunter has their own story, and no two hunts are exactly alike except for the two labels – failure or success. Like in life, you learn and you grow in the woods. 

We talked to nine different local turkey hunters and asked them three questions. Here are the replies we got. 

Question No. 1: What is it about turkey hunting that creates the never-ending itch to go year after year? 

“Turkey hunting to me is something spiritual, it’s not just about going out and harvesting a turkey it’s deeper in the soul than that it’s the chase and thrill. It’s about understanding the woods and learning the terrain of the area your hunting. It’s basically like becoming one with the outdoors and enjoying what God has given us.” – Hilmon James Gainey

“It has been a family tradition for years. I can remember going with my dad and granddad growing up. But what I look forward to the most is hearing them gobble. It never gets old. Hearing them gobble and getting to set up and communicate back and forth with a turkey is what I look forward to the most. The guessing game of where to set up when to call things like that is also exciting.” – Brandon Jennings

“The thing that drives me the most about turkey hunting is the views of an early spring morning. If a person ever doubted if there was a God, then they have never heard a turkey gobble. Turkey hunting is different to me than any other type of hunting, and it’s a never-ending learning cycle as each gobbler is different.” – Charles Luke

“Getting the thrill of interaction with the turkey you are calling him responding and having a history with a turkey you’ve attempted to harvest for days, weeks, and even years.” – Brett Robinson

“One of the greatest thrills for me is hearing a gobbler sound off at daylight. I hunt along a creek so you can hear for miles. Generally, the birds start chirping, and you hear a turkey fire off on the roost. It’s one of the most beautiful experiences you’ll ever participate in. It’s a great game of chess in which he has the upper hand. He has all he wants, but you have to entice one of the most difficult animals to kill in North America to come to you.” – Koby Easterling

“Turkey hunting allows for more movement than deer hunting. Stalk verses spot and stalk if you will, plus you are hearing and visualizing the hunt. You’re actively calling a turkey and hear a response versus the deer just showing up quietly. It seems to engage an impatient hunter and keep them moving, thinking, etc.” – Brandon Speed

“The challenge, the tradition, and the beauty of watching the woods come to life in the springtime.  The game that ensues when a gobbler responds to your call is a feeling like nothing else.  It’s a one on one chess match of trying to outwit a turkey and the sights you get to see along the way that gives me that itch.” – Darrin Herndon

“The excitement…from going in the evening to try and roost a good bird and hearing him gobble to the hoot to hearing him sound off the next morning. May not always get him, but the excitement of the hunt.” – Steven Lofton

“Turkey hunting for me started when I was very young with my dad at the age of 7 I killed my first bird, and I have been hooked every sense. Turkeys have intrigued me, and I desire to learn as much about their habits as I can read about and learn in the woods. I think about turkeys, and I strive to sound as much like a Turkey as I possibly can. I practice with my calls every day. They have almost a magnetic effect on me when they gobble. It drives me to get closer to them. The ways they act and think drove me to think like a turkey does and be able to know what he is going to do before he does it. The majestic appearance of a strutting turkey, his unique character, his never-ending desire to fool me, my never-ending desire to fool him, the spring woods awakening after the winter that is what creates my never-ending itch. I could go on for days but turkey hunting is my passion, and it defines me well I believe.” – Cole Walters

Question No. 2: What is the greatest lesson about turkey hunting you’ve learned through personal experience? 

“The greatest lesson I’ve ever learned is not to be impatient; turkeys are brilliant and peculiar creatures, patience is key when working an ol’ Tom.” – Hilmon James Gainey

“Patience by far. The more patience you have, the more turkeys you will come in contact with. I believe that more turkeys are not killed because hunters don’t have patience.” – Brandon Jennings

“Patience is by far the greatest lesson I have learned while turkey hunting. When I first started, I would want to get a little closer and usually spooked the bird. Since I’ve learned to be patient, I have been a lot more successful. If a gobbler answers you then he knows where u are and will most likely come to check you out at some point during the day when his hens leave.” – Charles Luke

“The biggest thing turkey hunting has taught me is patience. I can not tell you how many times one has quit gobbling and 10 minutes later I get up to leave and end up running the turkey off that was just almost in sight.” – Brett Robinson

“Woodsmanship is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned. You can be a championship caller and be a bad woodsman; you will only kill young and dumb birds. You have to be patient and understand the bird and what he’s interested in. He may be looking for a fight, a hen, or just gobbling to wake up the woods. Each bird has to be approached differently. No different than people you encounter daily.” – Koby Easterling

“Whew……lessons learned from Turkey hunting are lengthy. Number one…do not trespass. Number two…sometimes less is more. Smarter mature birds will react to less calling due to overpressure. And number three…be patient, as well as persistent. Turkeys don’t survive hundreds of years by being stupid. They figure things out and adapt, so never become complacent. Adapt with them and modify yourself to what works.” – Brandon Speed

“Patience… turkey hunting has a lot of waiting…waiting to hear the first gobble…waiting for him to close the distance. You may sit for hours at a time waiting on an opportunity to have a gobbler come into range. Many times I have thought he wasn’t coming and decided to leave or make a move then spooking him only to make it harder to convince him to come in the next time. I have learned to make myself slow down and not try to force things making me a more successful hunter and more appreciative when the long hours and hard work come together. From my experience, learning to be patient in the woods has carried over in my everyday life and allowed me to be a better person.” – Darrin Herndon

“Expect the unexpected. Had a good bird coming to me out about 100 yards [on time], I yelped a few times, and he’s on a string. He gets about 60 yards from me just around the bend in an old logging road and stops, can see him but not clear. He gobbles…not 20 yards behind me the world lights up, and this longbeard gobbles back at him…never knew he was there…needless to say I jumped, and both turned tail. As I said, expect the unexpected. – Steve Lofton

“I have learned countless things in the woods to many to describe I have a journal that I write my hunts down in and something that I learned from it. But I guess a few main things I have learned from personal experience is to be patient. Don’t call to a turkey while he’s still on the limb (he knows where his hens were when he went to bed wait till he hits the ground). Get to where a turkey wants to be not where he has already been in other words get in front of the bird. Call in the hens (when they are present) the boss hen when she gets mad or interested will come to check you out the gobbler will follow it’s hard to call a gobbled away from hens but it can be done. Don’t over call, and be as realistic in calling as you can listen to wild turkeys and YouTube, etc., to know what to say and when to say it. Like I said there are many things I’ve learned and each turkey requires a different way of killing him you have to read the bird and know from experience what to do.” – Cole Walters

Question No. 3: What other hunting seasons do you participate in?

“Deer, coon (or use too), fishing.” – Hilmon James Gainey

“Deer, squirrel, duck, dove but my number one hunting season are turkeys.” – Brandon Jennings

“I deer hunt, dove hunt, and rabbit hunt also.” – Charles Luke

“Deer duck and turkey.” – Brett Robinson

“If I can hunt it, I try to hunt it. I’m an avid deer hunter, squirrel hunter, duck hunter, and a fish as often as I can. Turkey hunting is by far my favorite. To say you’ve killed a turkey has just as much meaning to most as a rare duck or a mature buck, but to me, it means more.” – Koby Easterling

“Hog hunt with dogs, deer hunt, fly fish, run trotlines, duck hunt, geese hunt, squirrel hunt, turkey hunt, dove hunt, quail hunt, pheasant hunt, cougar/mountain lion hunt, and have hunted exotics.” – Brandon Speed

“Deer and turkey.” – Darrin Herndon

“Deer, squirrel, rabbit, dove, have hunted ducks but not much.” – Steve Lofton

“Deer, duck, dove, squirrel and rabbit hunt.” – Cole Walters