With gobbler season right around the corner in many places in the U.S., Game & Fish asked turkey expert Michael Waddell, best known for his “Bone Collector” and “Realtree Road Trips” TV shows on the Outdoor Channel, about turkey chokes, calls and more.
1. Turkey or deer?
Waddell: Yeah, a lot of people don’t realize I got my start as a competitive turkey caller. I love turkey hunting probably more than anything because it’s offensive. You’re relying on strategy and skill more than sheer luck — which drives me nuts when hunting deer. It’s a game of cat-and-mouse, with the winner being the one who plays the game best.
2. If you were limited to just one turkey call, which one would it be?
Waddell: Hands down, it’s a mouth call. I can manipulate different sounds a hen makes with all kinds of different inflections. You can call softly, hands free, when a gobbler gets close. And, you can use a mouth call aggressively to help locate, strike and fire a turkey up. I found the 3- to 4-reed Knight and Hale calls work best.
3. How do you choose a turkey choke?
Waddell: It gets said a lot, but the truth is, every gun is different along with every shot load. I’m not too picky, but I want a gun that can kill every time out to 45 to 50 yards. I’m not one to try long shots out past that anyway. I have had great luck with the Kicks, Indian Creek and TruGlo extended tubes in .665 and .675.
ATA 2018: ‘Bone Collector’ Takeover
Lynn Burkhead catches up with Bone Collector’s Michael Waddell, Travis “T-Bone” Turner and Nick Mundt at the 2018 ATA Show in Indianapolis.
4. What is the most common gear-related mistake beginner turkey hunters make?
Waddell: Oddly enough, I think not investing in a good pair of boots. I’m a runner-and-gunner, so I can log many miles turkey hunting. A high-quality pair of boots helps keep your feet comfortable as the day gets long. And make sure they’re waterproof.
5. Which subspecies is your favorite?
I love to hunt southern Easterns in Georgia and Alabama. This is where I learned how to hunt turkeys. They’re also super challenging to kill. As tough as they are, it makes the reward of tricking them that much more fun. These turkeys are less vocal, so you have to make moves cautiously. The turkey hunting culture found in the South is hard to beat.