“Whippoorwill” Georgia Turkey Hunt – 2007

Funny how a sound, or smell or sight of something can bring back a flood of memories. My first year turkey hunting, I primitive tent camped in southeastern Minnesota, and a whippoorwill sang all night long above my tent. Many years later now in Georgia, there was the whippoorwill again singing almost like a mantra, beginning just at dusk after the turkeys fly on roost. I’m not sure where whippoorwills go after turkey season as I do not hear them much. But their song is God’s song to me that winter is done and hunting has begun!

I had turkey hunted my own land in Minnesota this year and killed lots of time, but no turkey. My friend Deb and I had been invited to Georgia to hunt through the Womenhunters organization. Jasper, Georgia is in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and while I have a pretty tough constitution when it comes to hunting, I was about to meet my match with this terrain. We spent all of day one trudging nearly six miles trying nail down where the birds were hiding. We heard them, but we did not see them. Traversing the foothills was like stair stepping. My calf muscles were screaming by mile three. I made the mistake of telling the guys I was a distance runner and I would eat those words before the week was out. We patterned the birds to a central field on the 800-acre parcel we were hunting.

The next morning we didn’t see birds, so we set up on another field after sunrise where four or so gobblers were strutting with about a dozen hens. We set up 150-yards away in trees and brush. “We” consisted of two callers, Eddie and Devon, and Chris, a videographer with Cottonwood Outdoors. Deb was bow hunting from a ground blind on a nearby parcel with Dave from Cottonwood Outdoors as her guide. Except for my first turkey hunt, I had in the past usually always done my own calling, so having a champion turkey caller doing it for me was something new.

After calling the birds for over seven hours on that field and watching them disappear and reappear half a dozen times, we decided to get aggressive. We were also getting stir-crazy after sitting in the bushes for half a day, yelping to turkeys that refused to come closer. We had even tried a mating pair of decoys with choruses of yelps and purrs… to no avail.

I had ranged trees on a wooded peninsula across the field to be 50-yards and was comfortable with that distance for a shot. My Benelli 12-gauge M1 Super 90, with Winchester 3-inch HV turkey loads were rated to 60-yards, but I had only patterned this gun to 40. I am a good shot and I don’t get the shakes till after the shot, but still I always seek to shoot within my practiced distance. At one point, I had birds at 40-yards, but the shot was through a lot of trees and brush and I was not confident that enough shot would get through that tangle to kill the bird, so I let it go. That tom went across the field to the peninsula and slipped back into the woods. My backside was getting very sore from sitting on the ground by this time. We had been trapped in this field with uncooperative birds for near eight hours now. It was time for drastic measures!

Eddie asked if I could belly crawl 20-yards closer to the flock for a better shot if they came in. I told him I could belly crawl the two miles back to camp if it meant turkey dinner! I left my turkey vest and gear behind me, and crawled with my gun to a distant tree cluster. I was wearing a new leafy suit from True Timber and felt like a mobile shrub! The plan was for me to move closer, and the guys were all going to call like a desperate flock of hens to get the gobblers to move in. They started their calling and the turkeys in the distance all took notice and slowly began feeding our way. I set up with my elbows on my knees, steadied myself against the tree, shotgun at the ready, safety on and the red bead on my muzzle calmly resting back and forth between two birds in the distance. Ten minutes went by. I had left my range finder & binoculars in my turkey vest, but the birds appeared to be even with the peninsula and I remembered that feature being 50-yards. They seemed remarkably disinterested in our hot hen chorus, but they keep moving our direction none the less.

The guys stopped calling for a few minutes, and then decided to give it all they had. I was poised and ready. They started calling, the gobblers moving in our direction put their heads up, I clicked off my safety, rested the bead on the head of the closest bird and squeezed off the shot. In those moments after a shot, I never recall hearing the kablam of my gun. There was only one turkey where there used to be two. The grass in the distance was tall enough that I had to stand up to see the results of my shot. One gobbler was now running away. Then I saw a wing flap up and I knew my bird was down.

“Go get it!” yelled Eddie, snapping me out of my trance. I laid down my gun, and ran like crazy, followed closely by the guys. My gobbler had a few aftershocks but was a goner. I stepped on its neck, and Eddie who had been right behind me, ran up, high-fived me and also stepped on the birds neck to immobilize it and so the spurs would not flail and cut me. “Congratulations!”, said Eddie, “What a fantastic shot!”. The bird weighed in at 18-pounds with 9-inch beard and one inch spurs.

As we carried the turkey off the field, I ranged the distance with my rangefinder, and it was a bit more than I had figured and even a bit more than Winchester recommends. The field was so flat that the birds appeared to be even with the peninsula, but in reality, they were further. Thankfully, with being a steady shot, having a great gun with a turkey choke, and having ammo that packed 2.54 foot pounds of energy at 60-yards, I had success. Success was even better because of the team effort of our group, and a bonus was that the entire hunt was captured on video as well. What a great hunt!

My friend Deb was hunting with her Hoyt bow, but never had an opportunity at a gobbler even though she stayed out and hunted all day. She did get within 17-yards of a hen however.

Our hosts in Georgia made for a wonderful trip and I can’t wait to go back!

Hunt Location: -Cottonwood Farms, Jasper, Georgia

Hosts: -Dave Garner, Gordon Rickets, George Frady,

Of Cottonwood Outdoors -Rusty Sellars, True Timber Camo

Video: -Chris Kinsey, True Timber Camo

Callers -Eddie Wallace the “Turkey Man” ,-Devon Sweeney, True Timber Camo

Linda’s Equipment:

  • True Timber Leafy Camo in Pine Green
  • Browning women’s camo clothing
  • Benelli Shotgun, M1, Super 90, 12 ga. Semi auto
  • Winchester Ammo, HV Supreme, 3 in. 1-3/4, 4 shot
  • Mountain Screamer Game Calls
  • 10X Turkey Vest
  • Bushnell Yardage Pro Range finder
  • Alpen Optics mini binoculars
© June 2007