Bagging a Turkey – The Michael Waddell Way

Hook & Barrel Interviews Michael Waddell “The Jig is UP, Tom”

You might recognize Michael Waddell from his role as host of his Bone Collector outdoor TV show … or then again, maybe you wouldn’t. But what’s important to note is that his role is no act. He really is the affable, knee-slappin’, one-linin’, arrow-slingin’, guitar-playin’, unapologetic critter-baggin’ country boy he plays on TV. No doubt this authenticity is why he’s the most popular huntin’ show celeb of all time. But don’t let his aw-shucks drawl from Booger Bottom, Georgia, fool you; A turkey-calling champion as a teen, he’s one of the best all-around hunters of a generation, and nothing revs him up quite like the thundering gobble of a fiery longbeard.

In over 30 years of professionally filming, calling, and hunting turkeys, he’s studied them like a psychoanalyst studies a serial killer. The result is a knowledge of turkey behavior—and a knack for bagging them—rivaled by only a handful of hunters anywhere. How? He learned the basics of turkey hunting early—tactics passed down over generations. Then through necessity, experience, and God-given talent, he developed cutting-edge techniques that are often the opposite of what the old-timers will tell you. In this article you’ll learn Turkey Hunting 101—because in Waddell’s words, “Eddie Van Halen had to learn a few chords before he belted out Eruption—followed by his high-speed advice for bagging a longbeard this spring.

Time: Before the Hunt

Like any pursuit, you must put yourself in a position to be successful. This means hunting where turkeys are. And the only way to truly know where turkeys live—and where they eat, sleep, and breed—is to scout. Fact is, great scouting can afford an average hunter great success. Problem is, today many of us don’t have time to get out much during the season, much less invest precious days off into scouting.

Time: Before Dawn

If you read the first chapter of Turkey Hunting 101, then on opening morning you should know exactly where a gobbler is roosted so you can sneak in before dawn, get set up with your back to a tree, your shotgun on your knee pointing toward the bird so you can call and shoot with as little movement as possible. Many guys even stake a hen decoy in…