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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Hunting Pressured Turkeys by Brian Lovett

Reviewed by Steve Sorensen
Published by Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania 2007; 195 pages, 12 chapters. Paperback.
It's about time someone addressed the issue of
how to hunt turkeys that have seen it all before.
Someone has said that Pennsylvania's turkeys are
so pressured that if you can call in and kill
a spring gobbler here, you can do it anywhere.
At the beginning of each summer I make a few suggestions for the hunter's off-season reading. Summer is as much a time to reflect as it is a time to prepare for the future, and the hunter who lives and breathes his sport has no better time to catch up on the latest ideas and issues. So when you head out on vacation, or sit down to enjoy the summer evening, or wait for summer thunderstorms to pass by, pick up a book that will help you to reflect or prepare.

One book that should be at the top of your stack of summer reading is Hunting Pressured Turkeys by Brian Lovett, former editor of Turkey & Turkey Hunting magazine. It's a virtual textbook that leads a long and growing list of excellent turkey hunting books.

Unlike many books, this one delivers on its title. "Pressured turkeys" are what we hunt in Pennsylvania, and it's about time someone addressed the issue of how to hunt turkeys that have seen it all before. By the end of the first week of our spring season, the odds are that the turkey you're hunting is under pressure. He sure behaves like it. In fact, someone has said that Pennsylvania's turkeys are so pressured that if you can call in and kill a spring gobbler here, you can do it anywhere.

Lovett starts with good news – he says that the glory days of turkey hunting are now. Populations are at record levels, interest is high, information is widely available, and turkey hunting gear is highly refined. Passionate hunters are better equipped than ever before by what's available to stuff into their vests, and into their heads. But with the woods full of passionate turkey hunters, it's no wonder turkey hunting has become harder. So what we need to remember is this – it doesn't matter how much pressure turkeys are under, "they are still out there and gobblers still want to hook up with hens."

That's reason enough not to give up, and reason enough to believe Lovett's book will help you with that gobbler that beckons you back to the woods with each morning sunrise – even if that stubborn songbird escorts you to the season's final day.

If you want to judge this book by its cover, go ahead. The picture on the front is only one of dozens upon dozens of beautiful colored photographs throughout. And the text is just as satisfying. Along with chapters on "How Turkeys Use the Land," "Calling Pressured Turkeys," and "Troubleshooting the Tough Ones" are chapters on scouting, strategies for different times of the day and finishing the deal. The chapter called "Staying Safe in the Pressured Turkey Woods" is more than an obligatory safety lesson.

Back when I began hunting turkeys, most of us learned how to call in and kill a gobbler by trial and error. The few hunters who regularly killed spring gobblers succeeded mostly because they were fanatics about it or they had access to lands they kept secret. The few books we could find on the subject, even though some were written by the early masters of the sport, were interspersed with questionable wisdom.

Today, even though turkeys are highly pressured, learning to hunt them is much easier for at least three reasons. The first is because our turkey populations are at historically high levels, offering more opportunities to hunt turkeys than ever before. Second, because skillful turkey hunters whose expertise would challenge the likes of a dozen or so famous old-timers (Latham, Lee, Elliot, Harbour and others) live everywhere turkeys exist. And third, because solid instructional materials have proliferated right along with the flocks of turkeys themselves.

You've made your share of mistakes, and you probably know that nothing can take the place of learning from them. But you can learn from the mistakes of others, too. Like most turkey hunters, Lovett has made many, and he clearly teaches the lessons of his mistakes. Unlike most hunters, he doesn't make excuses, and you have no excuse not to get your hands on a copy of Hunting Pressured Turkeys. You'll be a better turkey hunter if you do. You can order Hunting Pressured Turkeys from at a discount.