Super Slam: A turkey from every state

John Hayes, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Outdoors

Unlike the other "turkey men," Tony Hudak of rural Wyoming County, west of Scranton, uses a dog to split the flocks before he calls in the gobblers.

"With turkeys, I think it's the one-on-one challenge that pulls me -- you know, it's me against him," said Hudak in the book. " ... The time I put into scouting, spring and fall, is my true turkey season, more so than the actual time I get to hunt and pull the trigger. That's just anticlimactic."

Hudak said the most common turkey-hunting mistakes are a lack of patience and weak setups.

"I've learned ... over the years that you've got to make it easy for turkey to come to you. Not make it easy for you -- you have to make it easy for him," he said. "I don't care where you're at, whether you're in Texas or Oklahoma or Pennsylvania. ... You go into an area and you figure out the terrain and you get a bird to gobble. Now it just comes natural. He's going to come right there and I'm going to kill him right there. And nine times out of 10 that's what happens."

Hudak said he prefers the fall turkey season when scouting is less about calling and has more to do with habitat -- finding the acorns, beechnuts, grapes and wild cherries.

"It's an even bigger challenge ... In springtime the tom is basically giving himself up by gobbling ..." he said. "Whereas in the fall it's pretty much a boot leather type of season. ... They're not looking to breed. They're not looking to do anything else but survive, and survival means food. So in the fall, September and early October, I'm scouting for turkey food."

Mature gobblers are quiet and habitual in the fall, said Hudak, traveling the same routes and returning to the same roosting areas. Fall flocks of hens and poults are more vocal and tend to stay together.

"So I like it because it's way more challenging than the spring hunting ..." he said. "It's a whole different sport and I think you have to exhibit better woodsmanship skills."

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