Years of hunting with these professionals has taught the author that each one has their own bag of tricks for taking spring toms. Here are a few prime examples their top turkey hunting tips.
The word "quit" is not in his hunting vocabulary. On the other hand, he is remarkably flexible and willing to adjust his tactics to suit a particular situation. That results in success on an impressively regular basis. Or, as his brother-in-law once put it to me, "It would take an 18-wheeler slap full to the top to hold all the turkeys Eddie has called in."
One thing is certain. However many turkeys he has called to the gun, in every case Eddie Salter believed they would come.
One of Crumley's outstanding traits is a willingness to do the work needed to "know the ground." I've hunted with him widely, and what soon becomes noticeable is his intimate familiarity with the terrain and topography of the areas he hunts.
There's no substitute for feet on the ground, and Crumley has roamed the ridges and haunted the hollows he hunts. Getting that kind of acquaintance with the territory is a defining trait of a fine woodsman, and sound woodscraft often translates directly to turkey-hunting success.
That boundless enthusiasm and zest for anything Eye is involved in carries over to the woods. He's a go-getter type of turkey hunter, one who likes to hunt aggressively. Yet when circumstances require it, he combines that "make things happen" attitude with patience.
It's a deadly combination. For those too wound up to take the traditional call-little/wait-long approach, he is an example of how "take it to 'em" tactics can and do work.
I have enjoyed the opportunity to spend considerable time in the spring woods with Drury, and on numerous occasions I have seen him make a near-instantaneous decision that produced a gobbler. It's difficult to develop that particular skill set, but taking a page from his book can be, in the long run, most rewarding.
That involves reviewing every hunt, every mistake, every woodland experience, and then assessing the lessons they offer.
Mark Drury is a prime example of the truth inherent in my favorite adage from the world of the outdoors: "In the school of the outdoors there is no graduation day." Those words were written by noted outdoors expert Horace Kephart more than a century ago, and Drury might well have adopted them as his credo. He learns well from past experiences and applies the lessons to the present.
Unquestionably, hours without end spent in a blind, camera in hand, have helped shape her approach to hunting. She personifies "easy does it," and when you've observed turkey behavior as much as Jolly has, it translates to a deeply seated, almost innate feel for when to call -- and when not to. Soft purrs, muted clucks, and short series of yelps -- all of them offered infrequently enough to drive turkey hunters whose only gear is overdrive half-crazy -- form her stock in trade.
Throw in a solid sixth sense when it comes to selecting a setup position, something doubtless derived from all those hours hunting with a camera, and you have Tes Jolly. Lovely in person and personality, she epitomizes a modern reincarnation of traditional turkey hunting techniques.
Photo courtesy of www.bowhunting.net
Cuz developed his hunting techniques early in his career while toting around 60-pound video cameras and pounding ground in an exhaustive effort to get video footage. That spawned a cutt-and-run, make-'em-gobble approach that is the way he hunts. Cuz can extract so much noise out of a tube call that no one who wants to retain his hearing will stand within 10 yards of Cuz when he is trying to locate a gobbler.
Or, as the sport's poet laureate, Tom Kelly, says, "When Cuz calls, he blows the leaves off the trees."
Loud though it may be, his super aggressive calling often works. It's particularly useful in situations involving lots of elbow room, hunts in national forests where it takes different measures to elicit a gobble, or cases where you face a "make it happen" perspective.
All of the numerous times I've hunted with Ernie he had already done some scouting, listened for gobbles, noted favored strutting grounds, and more. He's also always looking for an edge. I remember him having battery-activity, a decoy that offered movement long before that became commonplace. And the same goes for using a mounted hen, as well as other offbeat approaches. Calandrelli doesn't hesitate to experiment, but he does it within the confines of tried-and-true techniques.
It is also worth noting that Calandrelli is a great believer in putting some variety into calling, and so on any given hunt you can almost count on him offering seductive "music" on slates, boxes, diaphragms, and maybe a boat paddle. He's always trying to discover what works best on a given day, but whatever the situation you'll never find him lacking in patience.
Norton's overriding idea is to draw on his extensive experience and make a judgment call on just how to deal with a given turkey. Obviously the average hunter doesn't have Norton's rich wealth of countless encounters with turkeys, but the fact remains that we should all strive to understand the level of a gobbler's interest. It may range from a situation of "quit calling, he's coming" to one where a reluctant tom needs to be coaxed and coddled. Whatever the case, you too can read a bird's temperature.
Photo courtesy of www.nighthawkpublications.com
Also, once the season is under way, Harris is a firm believer in versatile use of locator calls -- owl, crow, hawk, pileated woodpecker, and others -- as opposed to a single locator call. He realizes that just like turkey calls, what works one day may not work another.
Pittman is a "do what it takes" hunter of the first water. I have personally seen him climb 20 or 25 feet above the ground in hopes of seeing a distant gobbler. He once dug a hole in the middle of a field and crawled into it far before daylight in order to deal with a troublesome field gobbler. He can slither through grass or broom sedge in a way to make a confidence-lacking snake envious, and he doesn't hesitate to take any and all offbeat approaches if he feels they might work. Adaptable and adventurous: Those words that describe Pittman.
He has hunted across the South for almost all his life. He will tell you, being born on Thanksgiving Day, that turkeys were destined from birth to be his guiding star. And from his earliest hunts right down to the present, Pittman has been a man in search of new and different ways, different in terms of calling techniques, how and where to set up, locator calling, and much more. His motto might be something along the line of, "You don't know until you try it." Underlying that innovativeness is a solid grounding in basic, practical turkey hunting.