This story was originally published in April 2019.
Many turkey hunters spend much of their time sitting in one place — either leaning up against a large tree or sitting on a stool in a ground blind — while trying to call birds closer.
One veteran turkey hunter chooses to take the action to the toms, and doesn’t spend much time in spots, such as hayfields, that are popular among other hunters.
Brhaun Parks of Glenburn has been turkey hunting for 24 years, and has helped countless friends and relatives fill their turkey tags. Parks often works a circuit of land parcels that he has permission to hunt, making a few calls to see if active toms are in the area, then moving in closer, if necessary, to set up an ambush.
“I like to do a lot of blind calling. I think it’s just better than going and sitting in a field all day. I don’t know how people can do that, sit in a blind and all that,” Parks said on Monday, as he did the calling for friend Tom Boyd of Glenburn, along with BDN staffers Pete Warner and me.
Parks has a pretty simple reason for his approach: Turkeys are easier to call in if they’re in the woods than they are if they’re out in the open in a field.
“You’re already fighting nature when you’re calling in a tom,” Parks said. “The hen’s supposed to go to the male. Not the other way around. So if you’re in the woods you’ve got a really good chance of getting the tom to come up the ridge or down, or wherever you’re at.”
The key, of course, is to make sure you’re taking the action to the toms safely. Every time a turkey hunter decides to move in order to get closer to a bird that they hear in the distance, there’s a chance that they’re actually moving closer to another hunter.
Knowing who else has permission to hunt on a piece of land can help. But being doubly sure of a potential target and what lies beyond it is essential for turkey hunters, who most often dress in camouflage clothing and try to blend in with the forest.
Parks said being flexible and learning from each bird is a key to success.
“I think a mistake a lot of rookies make, people who are new to it, is they call too much. Or they read an article where it says, ‘I’ve got to call every 15 minutes’ and that’s gonna bring a turkey in,” he said. “But every bird is different. Some just want it nice and slow. We might have a bird coming up through so I’ve got to yelp every three or four minutes, and three sequences and he’s here.”
And here’s a top trick that Parks said works quite often: Aggravate a female bird, and you might fill your tag on her potential mate.
“The most lethal way, I feel, to kill a turkey, believe it or not, if you can get a tom with a single hen, and you can get her mad, and she starts yelping back at you and cutting,” he said. “You mimic her and she’s going to come in looking for a fight with that hen and the tom’s always right behind ’em.”