After traveling to Alabama several times the previous two years, I was getting very familiar with early-season Dixie hunts. My first trip to White Oak Plantation near Tuskegee, Ala., however, introduced me to something remarkable
Well, not something — someone. Specifically, Bo Pitman, head guide at White Oak and son of owner Robert Pitman. Bo was already somewhat of a legend in the turkey world, having guided numerous writers and outdoor personalities while making a name for himself as a first-rate woodsman. So when I got to hunt with him the fourth day of my trip, I was pretty excited.
True to form, Bo had us slipping close to roosted turkeys. The birds flew down and went the other way, and I wasn't surprised when Bo then motioned for me to follow him — on hands and knees, of course — through several hundred yards of muck and briars.
When we got close and needed to set up, I was winded and soaked. However, I thought it would be a good chance to witness Bo run a call and work his magic. That's when I saw the yelper.
I'm not sure how old the glass call was, but it was cracked directly down the middle. Bo scratched out a few yelps and then turned toward me.
"Busted this a while back," he said. "Doesn't sound the best."
Maybe not. Still, as he eked out more clucks and yelps, the birds responded. After that, there'd be little calling.
"Come on," he said. "I know where they're at."
More muck and briars ensued. Eventually, we ended up at the edge of a pasture, with the breeding flock about 80 yards to our right. We seemed to be at a standoff, because the gobblers wouldn't likely leave the hens to come to us. That's when Bo whipped out the cracked glass call again.
As Bo clucked and yelped, one of the turkeys raised its head and slowly walked toward us. When it ducked under the fence, I saw a beard swing. Gobbler! Several tense minutes later, the longbeard stood 35 yards away.
"Wait till he runs his head up," Bo said. Then, without pausing, he whispered, "Now would be a good time."
I shot, and the gobbler collapsed. I was thrilled to have started the season with a dandy 2-year-old, but I was even happier to have hunted with Bo, the master woodsman.
I think about that hunt often. White Oak closed its doors a while back, and Bo lives out West somewhere, I believe. I wonder if he gets on turkeys there like he used to in Alabama. And I'll bet he still has that old cracked glass call. Hey, why change a winning combination?