When I’m doing seminars across the country, I’m often asked, “What’s the toughest turkey to hunt?” Since I hunt turkeys of all subspecies all over the nation, I feel qualified to answer that question.
The hardest turkeys for me to hunt are the Eastern wild turkeys, particularly in the southern states, like Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky. I believe one of the reasons that these turkeys are so tough to hunt is because of predators and the predators’ ability to hide in thick cover and ambush turkeys. The turkeys of the South have to be super-sharp to see the predators, hear the predators or to even assume where a predator may be, to keep from getting eaten-up.
Turkeys don't feel comfortable any time they're in thick cover. Therefore, they tend to stay more in open areas, where they can see great distances and spot any approaching predators. I think that predators are another reason that gobblers older than 2-years old usually want to see hens before they come to calling. I've often thought that southern turkeys don't gobble as much as other subspecies, because they believe that gobbling calls in predators as well as turkeys. Many southern turkeys older than 3-years old seem to give up gobbling and just spit and drum.
Another problem with southern turkeys is that they prefer to roost over water. Just about every time I hunt in the South, I have some kind of issue with water and getting to a gobbling turkey. One other factor that I believe plays an important role in making Eastern gobblers from the South so hard to hunt is that they’ve had extreme hunting pressure for many years, from some of the best turkey callers and hunters in the nation. Much of what we know about turkey hunting has its roots in those ole master callers from the Deep South, who learned the sport and how to hunt and call turkeys, long before other states had any turkeys to hunt.
Now, regardless of where you hunt for wild turkeys, you’ll find older, smarter gobblers, that can make bagging a bird a real challenge. But, I just seem to find more of those ole, smart Eastern gobblers in the Deep South states. And, hunting them successfully is always tough.