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First Time For Osceolas

OL contributor Ruben Perez, a Rhode Island boy, has been down in Immokalee, Fla., enjoying some premature spring and trying to put a tag on his first Osceola wild turkey. He graciously volunteered to share the story of his quest as it played out along with a few pictures that he took. Here it goes:

Warm, misty morning, a full moon lights the sky. Our set-up is just off the roost containing a couple dozen turkeys. Roosting spots surrounding the 1,000 acre orange orchard where hunting are few. With a handful of tall pine trees around, finding the roost is not a difficult thing. My guide's attention was in trying to figure out how to run a video camera with the hope of getting the action on film (unfortunately he failed to plug in the camera's microphone, later resulting in a soundless video of our hunt). I kept busy by getting our gear organized so we would have a bit more room in our Double Bull blind. With little cover offered by the orange trees, and the roost only a hundred yards away, the best option for the hunt was to use the blind.

Just as the moonlit sky gave up the battle to a new day, a serenade of gobbles seemed to emanate from all directions—a new season was on it's way. With the help of my Walker's Game Ear, I could make out five different gobbles.

My host, Bang Collins, with Paradise Valley Hunting Club had promised that I would be sitting on the "honey hole." And, true to his word, I was. For several years, Collins has taken his turkey right off this spot without fail. His knowledge on how they would react was dead-on.

"You need to go easy on the calling," Collins warned. A warning that another of his guides failed to heed while working a different part of the property. True to Collins' prediction, the guide came up empty for the day, running off these wary gobblers.

Since my guide opted to film the action, calling duties fell on my shoulders. With Collins' successful track record on this property, I listened to his suggestion and decided to do some light calling. My choice of calls were my favorite longbox custom-made by Marlin Watkins of Ohio. He just recently won several places in the yearly NWTF contest. My other call of choice was a Bruce Wurth pot call. Wurth, also an award-winning custom call maker, produces one of the best round calls made. Both of these calls have killed lots of turkeys for me, so my confidence level with them is high.

Sparing the long details, let's just say that the turkeys did exactly what Collins had predicted they would do. Unfortunately, the only birds to come within range were jakes. Apparently, a dozen or so jakes were running around the property raising havoc on the longbeards. In fact, Bang Collins' son Tom, witnessed eight bully jakes putting a beating on one unfortunate longbeard. These jakes were running the land. If I had know that in advance, I could have brought the demise to one of the three that came within 20 yards of our blind.

That evening's hunt, I was dropped off near the roost once again with hopes of enticing a returning longbeard. Unfortunately, the only thing I came close to was a group of deer that seemed to be at every turn of the orchard.

Check back to see how Ruben's second day hunting Osceola's goes tomorrow.


Jack E Strickland

Ruben, Marlin is a very special friend as you must know and one of the best call makers in the country. Love to pick on him as the yankee fron Ohio and I the redneck from South Georgia. Had dinner with he and Myra( who is just as lovely as Don is a gentelman)while we were at the Nationals.Thanks for mentioning himm in your artical.
jack e strickland
baxley georgia

Daryl Stubbs

Have several Of Marlin Watkins calls and hope to purchase more in the near future. He is a GREAT turkey call maker and also a fantastic turkey hunter.

Randy Sullivan

It's great to see Mr. Watkins name in print. No finer gentleman in the business. There are many fine callmakers in this country and they seldom get much press. It's good to see.

John Brown Jr.

Brian and I just returned from Florida last night. We made a mad dash, killed two gobblers and headed north. We hunted a large ranch called Alico which will be selling hunts starting next spring.

Turkeys responded really well to the calling and found our B Mobile Decoy too much to turn away from. At one point, in an afternoon hunt, we set up at the intersection of a crossroads, put "B" out and started calling to the wind. As I've seen it happen is Florida on afternoon hunts before, we spent the first hour hearing or seeing nothing. But like the temps, when it heated up it happened fast.

Around 5:00 we got a gobble and quickly decided B Moblie needed to be repositioned. After getting up and making a couple of steps, Brian informed me his was looking at a gobbler coming from a seperate direction the earlier gobble had come from. Then, the dreaded drum, this one from directly behind us and then a third drum, this one in front of us. Gobbler one, stood at 100 yards, strutting, looking at B Mobile and trying to figure out what Brian was. Gobbler two simply turned and walked away. Gobbler three ran straight to the decoy and destroyed it as Brian stood watching, his gun on the ground 10 feet away.

When it was all said and done we agreed it was the biggest cluster we had been a part of in the turkey woods in a very long time. It's almost like Florida birds sit around looking at their watches, waiting till a certain time before they'll come to afternoon calling. I"ve seen this happen several times in south Florida over the years.

In the end we brought two nice gobblers home with us and started off our taping season for "American Hunter Television" the right way.



Marlin makes THE most alive boat paddle in the business. They almost jump out of your hand with a unique real turkey sound. If you ever get the chance to hunt fall turkeys with him and the near lost art of "bust" dogs, then you will be in for an age old treat. Him and his traveling band of yanks have one problem that dates back to the 1860's, though...they can't shoot straight. Looking forward to how they do this year in the river swamp in South Georgia.

Tattnall County, Georgia


Man, it sounds like Marlin Watkins has a lot of fans out there. Great to hear. I've never actually met the man, but after seeing the interest and receiving some e-mails on him, maybe we'll have to profile him in the Strut Zone.

Thanks for letting us know!



Glad to hear your season got off to a great start, especially as you are now filming for American Hunter. I head down that way this coming Friday and CAN NOT WAIT. Every story I read gets me more pumped up for some warm air and the sound of gobbling.

For those of you who don't know, I used to have the privilege of working with John Brown and Brian Godfrey when we were all at the NWTF. John and Brian now have their own television production company and are shooting programs for NRA and QDMA. If you enjoy outdoor television, you'll want to check out the programs these guys put together. Their work is fantastic. I know I can't wait to see some of the hunts they capture this year.

Keep us posted John as you and Brian continue to hunt and travel.