well i would like to add my 2 cents.first that is a ridiculus notion to think that pa. birds are so tough that a champion caller is the only ones that can kill wary old toms. i have been hunting mississippi long beards for 25 years on public land and i will bet you my rem 1187 that pa birds are no tougher than them. i have killed more than my fair shair i assure you and im no contest caller. the true judges are ole tom and what he is in the mood for at the time. location far outweighs calling point blank. take a average joe put him in the right place and put a contest caller in a poor set up and i would take average joe anyday.
Shocwave26 is right, it is a ridiculous notion to think that PA birds are so tough that a champion caller is the only one that can kill wary toms. Lots of ordinary hunters kill turkeys here every year. But what the comments regarding how tough it is in Pennsylvania are about is the fact that PA has so many hunters, and so much accessible land (both public property, and private property that is open to the public.) That means the great majority of the birds have been called to and messed with before the season starts. It's not the turkeys themselves that are tough. It's that they have been toughened by repeated exposure to calling before the season and hit very hard on opening day.
StevePA made the point this way:
No offense but the number of hunters in PA far exceed anything most states have to offer...Its not the turkeys that are tough...its fighting the crowds...thats tough...One thing you wont ever see and thats hunting films made in PA...unless of course its done by a PA native...AND...You never if ever see posts about folks driving , flying , hitch hiking or otherwise to PA....to hunt turkeys....Why?...cUz...turkey huntings tough...
It's not that the turkeys themselves are any different than eastern turkeys anywhere else. They're not. We don't have a special elusive and super-wary subspecies that turkeys anywhere else are stupid on comparison to. But to understand why turkeys in PA are a tough hunt you have to understand something about the type of properties we have in PA, the road system that penetrates it, and the sheer number of hunters competing for the turkeys.
Here's an example: I was out this morning on a small piece of private property that is bounded by five other pieces of private property that are all posted, plus a public road. (And I'm describing only one side of the road.) This landowner encourages me to hunt there, but permits almost anyone who asks, so it's like being on a state game land or state forest. I've called in many turkeys here, but never killed one, for various reasons. What was probably the biggest one stood there as clean shaven as I am on a Sunday morning -- not a legal bird. Another time I had a bird within 60 yards coming right in, and someone who had sneaked between me and the bird shot it, picked it up and ran it off to one of the posted properties. That's what we face in PA on any given Saturday, and maybe any other day as well.
This morning I drove up the road to this property at 5:00 and passed three vehicles parked along the road. I park off the road, and can safely assume that at least one or two others did, too. I'm sure more arrived after I drove by. There are four or five houses and camps along the road and people are hunting from them, too. While waiting for daylight at my listening spot I heard two gobblers across the road on the top of the hill. It was already too late to go for them, and chances are hunters were already in position. It's less than a mile from the road in the valley to the road on the top of the hill on the other side, where several more cars would be.
I heard two separate shots on the top of that hill. I heard two separate shots (closer) a half mile down the valley from me. I heard one series of four shots (bang... bang-bang... bang) a mile or so down the valley and two more farther away -- 10 shots all by 6:30 AM.
That is what it's like in PA. It's Day One and those birds are already pressured. This is one time I'm glad we don't have Sunday hunting in PA -- at least the birds are likely to get a day off to settle down a bit for Monday -- but they will be tough hunts for the rest of the season.
The reason that you don't find many (I won't say you won't find any) videos made in PA (except by natives of PA) is because the whole state is pretty much like that. We have the huge Allegheny National Forest (riddled with access roads), we have several state forests (also easily accessed) and we have many state game lands (they actually have parking lots.) On top of that, we have a lot of small properties (50-100 acres) that are posted, and land that isn't posted is likely to have hunters on it who have no idea who the landowner is -- they're on it because they didn't see any "posted" signs. A lot is invested in making a video, so why would anyone even try to make a video where they have no control over who is messing with the birds they are trying to film?
Contrast that with some property in southern Ohio where a guy I know who is from right here is a guide. On any day, he can step into the woods and hear 20 gobblers, all on property where he guides. No one else is there. Maybe two or three of these birds are near the edge of the property and have been exposed to other hunters, but he can call in a gobbler almost anytime he tries -- probably more than one. THAT is the kind of place where videos are made -- and the kind of place that is virtually non-existent in PA.
PA birds are tough because they're highly pressured anywhere you go in the state. And the toughest place of all might be the northern tier of counties -- because they get pressure from New York hunters, too. The PA season opened today, April 25, and the New York season opens May 1. That gives New York hunters a week to mess with PA birds before their season even opens. You can drive around and see cars with NY plates almost any day during our first week, in addition to the cars with PA plates. Some PA hunters go to New York, too, so the birds in the southern tier of New York counties are like PA birds.
I'm not saying that this situation isn't similar to some places in Kentucky, Mississippi, or any other state. But here in PA, it's like that everywhere in the state. We probably have more hunters than we do mature gobblers, and we put a hurtin on them, even if every hunter doesn't kill one. That's why if a guy can kill a turkey every year in PA, and call in a couple for other people, he can call a turkey in anywhere. And it has nothing to do with calling ability. It has everything to do with the access to turkeys and the relentless pressure gobblers get here, on both public and private property.
I've talked to hunters from other states who say they don't hunt turkeys because it's too easy. Generally, hunters from PA who say that have gotten lucky on their first gobbler.
I'm not claiming to be an expert, and I'm sure some hunters will see it a bit differently on a point or two that I've made, but in general I'll be surprised if Pennsylvania hunters don't confirm the truth of what I've said. We have to work very hard to find responsive turkeys. Keep in mind -- read me carefully -- I have not said that no turkey anywhere is as tough as a Pennsylvania turkey, and any Pennsylvania hunter who says that is foolish for making such a blanket statement. There are a few pockets where you will find an easy one, and any state will have areas that get heavily pressured, too. But what I'm talking about is the general situation across the state. By the way, this thread is in the Pennsylvania forum, but hunters from elsewhere are free to discuss.
Sorry for the long post -- but at least I broke it up into paragraphs so it's easy to read. [:D]