Category Archives: Confessions of a Turkey Hunter

Bobby Parks shares his turkey hunting experiences in Confessions of a Turkey Hunter

Texas Super Stalk – Confessions of a Turkey Hunter

I’m sure everyone has confidence in their hunting and stalking abilities but I have to tell you based on a stalk I pulled off on a gobbler many years ago; I think it’s safe to say I’m in a league of my own when it comes to stealth and pulling off the improbable.

The scene was in San Angelo Texas and it was my third year hunting the same ranch. Two gobblers were included with the hunt with an option to take a 3rd and 4th for an extra bird fee. I got off to a quick start and took a bird on the first morning and another in the afternoon taking care of my first two tags. I didn’t want to quit hunting so I decided to pay the extra bird fee which at that point was $150.


The second morning I jumped in the rental car and drove to a detached property tract about 30 minutes away from the ranch and began my morning hunt. I parked and took off on what would be about a 30 minute walk to the power lines which is where I planned to kill my next bird. Yes in Texas turkeys roost on power poles as they provide the highest perch around. It’s quite a sight to see actually and at times they can be lined up like buzzards. If you’re doing afternoon scouting you learn to walk under the poles and look for droppings to determine which poles are being used and then it’s just a matter of backing up away far enough that you won’t mess up a roost area and start playing with the birds once they get down or when they’re headed back. I had done my homework and knew the routine. It paid off and I had my third Rio within a couple hours of fly down.

I gathered up the gobbler and began the long walk out. It was a hot day and after walking a while I decided I would lighten my load and ditch everything but my gun and drive back to pick up the bird. I tossed my vest and the bird on the side of the road and continued for a ways. A short time later I decided there was no reason to keep lugging my gun around so I laid it off to the side of the road as well and took off for the rental car. It was a haul but finally I made it to the car and the cooler with my water bottle.

As I was driving back I came around a curve and saw a gobbler in full strut 200-250 yards down a long straight away. He was in full strut and kept raising and lowering his fan and turning off to one side of the road and was putting on a big show. My binoculars were in my vest so I couldn’t get a good look at him or tell if he had other birds with him but I assumed he at least had hens. As I sat there watching him a little light bulb came on inside my head and I realized that my gun should be somewhere this side of him. The killer instinct resurfaced inside me and I decided if I could somehow pull off a stalk that involved first reaching my gun and then the bird……I’d pay the fourth bird fee. I knew it was a low percentage effort and I wasn’t even sure where I left my gun but it seemed like a good challenge to undertake so I decided to go for it.

I eased the door open and tried to make myself small, and then slid out of the car like a snake. I hadn’t crawled 10’ before I started taking hits from cactus or some unidentified objects but being the tough and determined predator I had become, I sucked it up and worked my way over to the brush and then took off running darting from cover to cover. I stayed away from the road for the first 100 yards and just plowed through whatever was in my way taking several mesquite and cactus hits for my trouble. I knew I was going to have to get the tweezers out when I got back to the ranch and maybe require surgery with all the hits I was taking but its amazing what you can take with adrenalin flowing throughout your body.

After I had gone what seemed like 150 yards I eased back out to the road and crawled over to peek around to find the bird and get my bearings. I caught a glimpse of movement and pulled back into the cover. To my relief the gobbler was still there strutting around and only 60-70 yards away. Now I began to worry whether my gun was on this side of him or beyond. I crouched down and duck walked staying back off the road trying to find the gun and just when I was starting to give up, I saw it laying just a few yards away.

I should point out that as good as lightweight loose leaf camouflage is for hiding, it’s not worth a crap when it comes to crawling on the ground in southwest Texas and I’m convinced it attracts prickly pear and thorns like a magnet. I started taking some serious hits right as I was getting to my gun but somehow managed to muffle my moans. I grabbed the Benelli and army crawled over to the edge of the road using a prickly pear bush as cover. My heart was racing as I was on edge of pulling off what was nothing less than a super stalk on this bird. As I tensely made my last couple of painful crawls and strained to peak down the road I caught a glimpse of a fan and movement.

We’ve all experienced what I would call “defining moments” as turkey hunters and as I lay there all stuck and bleeding with my gun raised and lined up on this gobbler, I knew I had just experienced one that would never be forgotten. The bird was right where I thought he’d be, just 25 yards away. In fact, he was right where I had left him lying after I had shot him the first time right beside my vest with the Texas wind lifting and lowering his fan.

I’m pretty sure that statistically speaking that percentages are in a hunters favor when stalking an already dead bird which is what this whole crazy episode had been about.

I realize this piece could easily be titled “Confessions of an Idiot” and if I had any sense at all I’d never acknowledge that this occurred. But here I am telling everyone that reads this all about it.

That said: its fun for me to look back and reflect on my earlier experiences as a turkey hunter. It’s obvious that I’ve had many less than glorious moments and this incident in Texas is just one of many.

I’m a wiser today compared to my earlier years in terms of how I go about things but I’m sure I could add a new paragraph each year.

The adventures, and learning experiences that we encounter through turkey hunting provides us all great memories and in my case many laughs and a fair amount of embarrassment. I’d like to think it’s not just me and I have to wonder how many of you shared similar experiences but you’re just smart enough not to admit it.

Bobby Parks
Grand Slam Network
Mossy Oak Pro Staff

Confessions of Turkey Hunter – My Second Bird

To say I was fired up on Opening Day of 1993 would be an understatement. Although I had somehow killed a bird on the very first morning of my first season the year prior it was a fluke and I knew it. Aside from that one encounter, it had been an uneventful season. But this was a new season and I had done my homework and I was ready to hit the field with a new and improved game plan.

I dropped down off the hillside and entered the Flint River Swamp with high hopes and although I didn’t hear anything at first light I knew there were birds around. I worked my way down the logging road hitting my owl hooter every 50 steps or so and then turned into the woods about 50 yards before I got to a clear cut. I had not taken 20 steps when a bird that couldn’t have been more than 60 yards away gobbled on his own. I immediately panicked not really sure what to do so I just dropped down in front of a tree facing towards the gobbler and pulled out my Lynch Fool proof box call.

I felt cold water soak into my pants and realized not only was I sitting in the swamp but I was pretty much surrounded by ankle deep water with dry mounds protruding at random spots. Knowing I could not move I accepted that I was just going to be wet and tried my best to do a soft yelp without squeaking as I had never called under such pressure. The second I made a sound with the Lynch box the gobbler cut me off. My heart and mind were racing now because although I had already killed a bird it had happened in a very non traditional way and this was the first time a bird had gobbled at me that I knew was close enough to come in. I eased the call into my lap with the paddle fully open hoping it wouldn’t make any noise and raised my Winchester 1300 onto my knee.

I was already struggling to keep my composure when he popped into view only 30 yards away at which point I started to hyperventilate. I could not get my breathing straight or keep my gun still and my barrel moved like I was waving a flag every time I breathed. I thought for sure he would see this but somehow he didn’t. To make matters worse he was headed in a direction that would take him to my right and even if I could turn which I couldn’t, I had a big palmetto bush right next to me. About the time I concluded I was totally screwed he made a hard right and started coming across out in front of me. My insides were going through what felt like nuclear fusion and honestly I felt like I was going to explode but somehow kept myself in check. Finally he moved around and was 20 yards out and turned away with his fan towards me. I swung my gun around and got lined up. When he turned he seemed to notice something and pulled his head up and when he did I fired and he went down.

I came up on my feet like a gymnast at the Olympics and ran over to him. I was lucky because he had fallen onto one of the few protruding mounds which kept him from getting wet. I just stood there shaking in muck and ankle deep water looking at him still not believing what had just happened.

He laid perfectly still right up to the moment I touched him at which point he miraculously came back alive and went berserk. I had no idea this was coming and not knowing what to do I latched onto his neck with one hand and held on to my gun with the other and tried to choke him to death. He immediately started flogging me and I could tell the choke thing wasn’t getting me anywhere but I was afraid to let him go thinking he would fly off. I was frantically trying to figure out what to do when his flapping wings knocked my hat off and my facemask slid down over my eyes. Realizing I was now blind and in the process of being flogged to death, and not wanting to drop my gun in the water, I tried to fling him and snap his neck like a pheasant. That didn’t work as I realized he was a lot heavier than a pheasant and I jammed my index finger in the process. Out of desperation I slammed him as hard as I could into the mud and water and then started trying to stomp on his head. After stomping around blindly like a kid in a mud-hole, my boot finally connected with his head and I sat down on him. I’m not sure if he drowned or choked to death but I stayed on top of him for a couple minutes after he stopped moving just in case it was a trick.


When it was over I had mud in my barrel, looked like I had been swimming in a mud hole, and the bird looked like he had been dragged behind a boat. I remember seriously considering shooting him again just for the hell of it.

Although I was glad to have killed my second bird and glad to survive the ordeal, I realized I still had a lot to learn. It goes without saying that this was not a hunt I would have wanted on video. I felt foolish but was thrilled to have had my first encounter where a gobbler gobbled and strutted and reacted to my calling. As bad as he looked afterwards, this event had completely hooked me on turkey hunting in a way that no type of hunting ever has. Almost 20 years later, many of my hunts run together, but I remember this hunt like it was yesterday. Traumatic experiences will do that for you.

By Bobby Parks
Mossy Oak Pro Staff
Ol’ Tom Field Expert

The Third Element Of Turkey Hunting

It seems that each year on various forums we partake in the discussion involving “Calling” or Woodsmanship” regarding which is most important. Many highlight the woodsmanship aspects while the really good callers make their points for calling. In the end most of the veteran turkey hunters realize that the better you are at both, the better you’ll be at killing turkeys. I also believe that there is a third element of turkey hunting that rarely seems to surface during these conversations or at best seems to get mixed in with the rest.

I’m talking about “Turkey Hunting Experience /Wisdom” that comes from pursuing turkeys specifically and the knowledge that comes with it. This third element is a stand alone aspect that has to be combined with the others and is in my view the glue that bonds the other two together.

turkey-hunting-new-mexico (2 of 2)

Think about it this way. Calling is something you practice and learn. It’s a specific skill involving instruments and various types of calls. Although some people seem to be more gifted when it comes to running calls, for most it takes practice to become better than average. Average calling will allow you to kill some turkeys but the better you are the more types of turkeys you can handle. And as important as it is to be able to call, it’s just as important to know when to call or when not to call and even what type of call to make. And, even if you’re a great caller, it doesn’t mean you’re a good turkey hunter.

Realizing “Woodsmanship” has varying definitions for many, in my opinion it’s a developed ability to operate and function in the woods in a manner that requires mostly unconscious efforts and becomes second nature for many. It’s a combination of learned skills that comes from experience and involves abilities to maneuver with a general in depth understanding of nature and wildlife. It’s a learned trait of minimizing the intrusion factor and being aware through sight, sound, and smells what’s going on around you. It’s an achieved comfort level while in that environment. But again, just because you’re a good woodsman does not mean that you’re a good hunter.

Woodsmanship and calling are both building blocks and a requirement that specific quarry skills must be added to. For example: If you deer hunt you learn about deer habits, environment, food requirements, and hunting tactics. This applies to any type of hunting such as elk, moose, bear, or waterfowl. The more you learn about the quarry, the better results you experience.

The Turkey Experience /Wisdom aspect is the “Third Element” of gained specific knowledge that can only come from experience and exposure to hunting turkeys. And although some may learn quicker than others, it takes years and the learning aspect never really ends. When this element is reasonably perfected and can be added to the woodsmanship and calling aspects, it totals to create the true turkey slayers that can kill birds consistently in any part of the country under most conditions. It’s comparable to having a good running, passing and special team’s capability in that it allows for a truly balanced attack. Lacking in any of these aspects will limit success.

Some may argue that this third element is “Woodsmanship” but in my mind it’s a separate category. Turkey hunting veterans that gain this knowledge and experience and combine it with well developed Woodsmanship and calling skills have expanded capabilities that go well beyond average. This group exhibits an ability to process everything that’s happening around them in a way that combines hunches, instinct, and what appears as a gifted talent. These individuals often don’t know what they’ll do until they do it but reactions to varying scenarios and appropriate tactics and solutions just seem to float to the top of their heads often enough that they stand out as hunters. Identifying and picking good set up locations is mostly second nature. Turkey hunting and the pursuit really does become instinctive and they combine the three elements as though it’s all coming through an IV that has an automatic regulator. Utilizing Woodsmanship and their calling abilities in a way that complement each other and extending just the right dose of each based on what their third element sense tells them is an unconscious effort. Just the right combination of aggressiveness and patience is utilized and balanced with persistence always at the core. Putting in the time and always believing it’s just a matter of finding a way and that there’s an answer to every situation is a given. There’s a healthy balance of confidence and humbleness at work at all times. Hunches and instincts are trusted and a willingness and relentlessness to constantly probe, search, and try to read a particular bird or situation is ongoing.

The drive comes from a combination of a love for the outdoors, the sound of a gobble, the sight of a strutting gobbler, and the challenge and satisfaction that comes from being successful. It’s the desire to repeat the adrenalin rush that comes at the moment of truth after endless amounts of anticipation and efforts that finally pays off. It’s a desire to work through the scenario and get the right combination that puts a bird over your shoulder or someone else’s. It’s a personal challenge between you, the bird, and the elements.

Being willing to gamble and sense when a right or wrong direction is taken occurs automatically. Defeat is never taken well but is not wasted in that it is imputed as a lesson learned that furthers the third element data bank.

And no matter how many they kill most always walk away feeling lucky knowing that it could have easily gone the other way and that the bird could still be walking. And when you win, you won the fight, but when you get beat, you’re not defeated; it was only one of many rounds.

Bobby Parks
Mossy Oak Pro Staff
Ol’ Tom Field Expert