It’s no secret that the turkey has become my greatest nemesis (aside from myself) in the outdoors. Although, I’ve only had a few opportunities to harvest a bird, I’ve come up empty on each trip that I’ve made. I consider myself a novice when it comes to deer hunting, which means I have no idea what I’m doing when I’m hunting turkeys. What do you do when you don’t know what you’re doing? You call an expert.
One of the cool things about hosting a podcast is the people you get to talk to. So far, we’ve been fortunate to have some great guests that have a wealth of knowledge regarding the outdoors. Longtime friend, Tim Carley, did an episode with us regarding land management and being able to curb your expectations regarding hunting. Chad Lecompte was on the show a week before that and introduced us to Pine Belt Kayak Bass Fishing. More recently we hosted Brian Kittrell from Whitetails Unlimited and 2B Outdoors. Brian told us all about how to get linked up with hunts across America and even the globe. All were great guests with valuable information that any hunter or angler would appreciate. The episode that comes out this week, though, is something truly magical in the hunting community. We were able to talk about turkey hunting with the legendary Preston Pittman.
In case you’ve lived under a rock, Preston Pittman is THE turkey king. If you still don’t know who I’m talking about, he’s the guy that can call turkeys…with just the use of his mouth. He won his first turkey calling championship at age 16 and has held five different world titles. He’s been featured in tons of magazines and has been on several TV shows including: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, David Letterman, Mississippi Outdoors, and many others. His game calls are sold all over the country. Even with all of those accolades, perhaps the most incredible thing he’s accomplished, to me, is being the first person to ever complete the Double Grand Slam in one season. In the turkey world, this means he killed two of each of the four turkey species in America…IN ONE SEASON!
In all of the times that I’ve gotten to speak with Preston, the one thing that rings out loud and clear is his love for his home state of Mississippi. And why not? Mississippi has been one of the leading states in the country when it comes to producing quality outdoor content. Preston makes sure to plug the Mississippi Outdoors Hall of Fame, which is housed in Leland, right in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. He was one of six to be inducted in the initial class, along with another local outdoorsman, Paul Elias. Paul is the step-father to one of my old college roommates, so I feel incredibly fortunate to have been around some of the best outdoorsmen in the business. After showing Mississippi some love, we finally get down to business: turkeys.
Like I said, I don’t have a clue what to do to kill turkeys, and according to Preston, one phone conversation isn’t going to exactly change that. However, when I got off the phone with him, I felt like I’d learned more in 45 minutes than I’d learned in 35 years. We, along with Matt Langford, talked about calling turkeys. We talked about things that turkeys like to eat. We talked about travel routes. We talked about hunting in different weather. We talked about bag limits. Out of all of the things we talked about, the one thing that really hit home to me was painting a picture for the bird. I’d never really thought of it that way. Preston talked about how you want to paint a picture for what that bird wants to see. That goes from the sounds that you make to how you set up your decoy. It was almost like a light went off in my head. I’d never thought of making songbird sounds, or the sound of a squirrel barking. It all made too much sense. These are sounds you hear when animals are comfortable, and that’s what you want that turkey to be, comfortable.
Now it’s time for my usual disclaimer. As Preston said, I will also say, doing these things won’t guarantee that you kill a bird the first time out. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, that ol’ Tom will flip the script on you. That’s what makes turkey hunting so much fun. It’s hard to pattern an old thunderchicken the way you would a buck. It’s not impossible, but it’s hard. Maybe the best bit of advice that he gave regarding calling was to practice all of the time. You can’t buy a call today and go out and expect to kill a bird tomorrow. This is where I’ve fallen miserably short over the years. My lack of confidence with calling has been born out of my lack of practice. His last bit of advice was to be incredibly safe (he’s been shot twice).
With all of my newfound knowledge, thanks to Preston, I can’t wait for the opportunity to put it to test. Be sure to check out the “Pinstripes to Camo Podcast” on Apple, or Spotify, to hear our show with Preston before turkey season begins. There are only a couple of weeks left before the best sound found in the woods will soon begin and you might benefit from a tip or two. I feel like a Chicago Cubs fan at the beginning of the season thinking that, “this year is my year.” Hopefully, by the end of the season, I’m not still quoting Cubs fans saying, “Just wait ‘til next year!”