Two Strutting Toms B.S. Session

Show Notes

On this episode of the Nine Finger Chronicles, Paul Campbell joins Dan in an all out wild turkey BS session. The guys kick off the show by sharing their "introduction to turkey hunting" stories and how Paul specifically fell in love with the activity back in 2008. Paul is currently employed by the National Wild Turkey Federation where he is able to mix his turkey hunting passion with communicating to other the importances of conservation through the NWTF. After that is all BS, the guys talk about their favorite turkey hunting scenarios, the observed turkey population decline, and much more turkey hunting conversation. If you are wild turkey nut, this is the episode for you.

Show Transcript

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What's up everybody? Welcome to another episode of The Nine Finger Chronicles. Today we're doing something a little bit different, something [00:01:00] that I don't usually talk about, and that is Turkey hunting. And today's guest is one of the hosts from the Ohio Outdoors Podcast, Paul Campbell. And if you've listened to that podcast, if you've, if Paul at all, me and him are, I put all of my energy into Whitetails, and then occasionally I'll be excited to go hunt turkeys.

He's the complete opposite of me. He goes out and he's die hard, and he tells why he's die hard. In this episode, Turkey season is the mecca for him, and it sounds to me like the dude's gonna be bouncing around to several states this year chasing turkeys. And so this is a little bit of a shout out type episode because Paul is going to be hosting a podcast called the How to Hunt Turkey Podcast.

Similar to our How To Hunt Deer podcast on the network here, and it's just, it's a [00:02:00] really good podcast. All information Turkey hunting, and if you're a Turkey nut or the whitetail season is over and it's time to get into something different and you want to get into turkeys. This is definitely what you guys need to be following along with.

Be sure to go check out the How to Hunt Turkey podcast, and we get into all that here in, in the episode today. But Paul, as you will hear, is a very energetic guy when it comes to Turkey hunting. And hopefully that energy passes on to you. That's all I'm gonna say real quick in this intro. We do gotta do the commercials.

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There is the commer, the the partners. Now, next, 2023 for me. I'm gonna be using a little bit of my time to give back to. The conservation effort, which is the natural resource that we all take away from every year. So I'm gonna make it a point to give back to the natural resource.

And one way to do that is to become 2% for conservation certified. If you wanna find more about 2% for conservation, please go visit fish and All right, so why don't we just get right [00:07:00] into it and hop on this episode with Paul Campbell. 3, 2, 1. All right, ladies and gentlemen, I, this is gonna be a fun episode because we got Paul Campbell and now you're not just the host of One POD podcast.

You're the host of multiple podcasts. What's that feel like, 

[00:07:21] Paul Campbell: Matt? It's a layer of stress that I like, I enjoy it. But, so I'm fighting now because I'm getting all these awesome guests to talk about turkeys, and I'm like, oh, man, which show do I put 'em on? Yeah.

That's something, but it's a good problem to have. So I can't complain, man. I, but I'm enjoying it. I will say, I. I could talk about Turkeys nonstop. Yeah. And I do quite frankly, . 

[00:07:43] Dan Johnson: And that's funny because I can remember a couple conversations that. I had with you and I had with Andrew.

And by the way, just to catch everybody up here Paul is one of the hosts of the Ohio Outdoors Podcast, otherwise known as the oh two Podcast, and [00:08:00] now he's been tapped by the network to start creating some content about Turkey hunting. And we've dubbed that the How To Hunt Turkey Podcast. And. I'm excited because multiple reasons.

Like I, I just felt like we've been neglecting Turkey hunters here on the network, but at the same time I personally , this is gonna sound bad, don't give too many shits about turkeys. I Turkey hunt. I like it going and doing it, but I'm not planning my life around Turkey hunting like I am whitetail.

[00:08:33] Paul Campbell: So you and I had a couple conversations last year and you told me about shooting a Turkey off of a trash bag that thought it was a decoy and just and not your disdain for turkeys, but just it's not an important part of your life like it is to me.

So I worked the National Wild Turkey Federation. I'm at the convention in Nashville in 2022, and they're showing this real emotional Turkey. Video about Turkey hunters and what it means. Yeah. And your big bearded ass comes up on that screen, , and I [00:09:00] fucking smack the table. And I'm like, , this guy, this is who you choose.

And I lost my mind. That you were, that they chose you of all people to be, and it was a great moment that, that you submitted. I will say, thanks for doing that. It was a really true moment, , but I was so fired up about that. I'm like, oh man. So the 

[00:09:21] Dan Johnson: national, the, they'd 

[00:09:22] Paul Campbell: be like taking me to talk.

[00:09:23] Dan Johnson: Oh, go ahead. I was gonna say the n w TF must not know about how I. About Turkey hunting, right? Because I'm sure there's other guys out there who, so here's the the short of it. Man, a handful of years ago, my buddy Curtis he's really good at videography and editing, and he came down and he recorded.

Me taking my wife Turkey hunting and the little tradition that we used to have where all of the family would get together during Turkey season, we'd go hunting and, sometimes we'd have mushrooms and we'd have fish fries and things like that. And we captured it and I submitted [00:10:00] it to the N wtf.

What was it, like a video challenge or just, it was like a award ceremony for. Film dedicated to Turkey honey. And it won. It won first place. And so I would've loved to have been there when you're like, this guy doesn't even like Turkey . 

[00:10:18] Paul Campbell: And it's, it like our, it's it like our big awards banquet.

Yeah. And there's 3000 people in this room. And you popped my head just exploded. I, it was like that, like I just fell out of my chair. I was just, this is, stop the show. This is unacceptable. I got 

[00:10:31] Dan Johnson: him. I got 'em all duped . That 

[00:10:33] Paul Campbell: was great. No, it was good. It was a good video. It was a good, it was one of those good moments in the woods, man.

And it doesn't matter. Those are always 

[00:10:39] Dan Johnson: special, I'm yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. So let me ask you going back as far back as you can remember. First off, did you come from a hunting family? 

[00:10:50] Paul Campbell: No. I did not, I didn't start hunting until I was 25 and the first thing that I hunted just happened to be a wild Turkey.

And I think one of the [00:11:00] reasons that it's so important to me, just the pursuit and the animal is that at the time, so this would've been 2008 was my first year. My, my dad had just died. And if, for those of us that are old enough to remember the great recession, I'm using air quotes with the people listening here.

The economy was trash, right? Yeah. My, my life was trash. The industry that I was working in, the golf course industry, I couldn't keep a job. Cause everyone, you're just getting laid off. Yeah. You start a new job laid off. My dad had died. I was drinking a ton. My, my life was in free fall.

And my, one of my best friends he called me and said, Hey man, do you want to go Turkey hunting? And I think he knew that like my, I was just, In a dark place. And my response was, what the hell's a wild Turkey? I had no idea what it was, , and I didn't know that people did this. And so I went out to, I went out to Walmart.

I bought like the cheapest camo that you could get, and you know what I'm talking about? It's 10 bucks for a shirt, $10 for a pair of pants. And it's it doesn't move. It's super thick, it doesn't breathe, but it got the job done right? Got me in the woods. I borrowed a shotgun. and I bought one of [00:12:00] these it's a primo's, power crystals, and so it's just this little like acrylic call.

And this was really like before YouTube and, you had to buy like a magazine or have a mentor to learn how to hunt. And what year was, didn't know what I was doing. This would've been like, this was 2008. 

[00:12:13] Dan Johnson: Oh, okay. All right. 

[00:12:14] Paul Campbell: Yep. Yeah, so that's when I first started hunting. I didn't know that you had to scratch the call surface to get it, to make Turkey sounds right.

So you had to like, take sandpaper and rough it up. I didn't realize that. So I'm sitting here for weeks, man. I'm trying to figure out how to get this Turkey going to work, . And so I go into the, I go, this is like the day before season, I go into this little hunting store that I bought it from in southeastern Ohio.

I'm like, Hey man this Turkey call's broken. I need a new one. And he looks at it, he's you like Turkey? I'm like, oh yeah, I've never Turkey on it. Yeah. I just didn't wanna look like an asshole, . I was like, oh yeah, I love a Turkey hunt. He's you're doing a lot. I'm like, oh yeah, I've been doing it for years.

He's Did you know you need to scratch his call up. I'm like, oh yeah. And , this guy's you're an idiot. So he takes the sandpaper that came with the damn call and he scratches it up and he hands it back to me. He's give this a try now. And I started Yelp him, and I was just like, I was like, all right I'm gonna, I'm gonna back out of the store.

It was like, I was like the Homer Simpson meme where I just [00:13:00] like back into the bush real slow. Cause I just made myself look like a total dick. And that was the, that was it. So that was my. Into into the Turkey hunting world. But, oh man, yo man I didn't hear a Turkey until like my third hunt that week.

Yeah. In Ohio. And when I heard a gobble, something in my mind clicked, man and changed. And it and it's weird to say, but at the time of my life, like that, hunting that animal and learning to Turkey hunt gave me purpose. Yeah. And. . 

[00:13:27] Dan Johnson: Same. That was a long-winded answer.

Yeah, dude. Dude. Same story. Different species, man. That's, yeah. You could almost enter my name and whitetails into that. So I'll tell you this. It wa wasn't un, maybe I went hunting once or tw Yeah. I went hunting a couple times in middle school and high school for turkeys, but nothing serious.

But then in college, I transferred from one school to another one cuz the first college I went to was a two year college. The second time I went was a I transferred to a bigger [00:14:00] university and I was closer to my uncle and he was just like, Hey man, you should come Turkey hunting with me.

And so it was Alan and Dana and their brothers and those are my uncles and you should come do this with me. And I'm like, okay. And. I went out Turkey hunting and I had never been Turkey hunting before, but it wa like seriously before. And so I had a okay camo from deer hunting. I had, a decent pair of boots.

I didn't know shit about calling and what, how they would respond. So my, so you know, the classic setup where the one guy falls back and calls and the other guy's out there, and it was an absolute just exhilarating experience, man, back in the day. Iowa's Turkey population has really dropped off in the past, 10 years, 10 pl 20 years, and it was one of those mornings where it was just a little.

Clear, not a cloud in the sky. The sun's coming up and they were just ripping hard. And my uncle's back [00:15:00] there going bananas on his call. These Toms are just going off, they fly down off the tree right in front of me, strut, boom. And I just crush one. And then I was like, this is awesome. And the initial, the e everything initial about it was.

Was cool. So then after that I went on like a dude, like a 10 or 15 year streak where I was just blasting Turkey almost the exact same way where it was go into the woods, listen to 'em on the roost, set up, they'd fly down and I'd shoot 'em. And so I don't know if that was a good thing for me. to have it be so easy.

But it was, it was, it just became real easy and I found success and I have learned since then that it's not always that easy. And I don't know I've since put a lot of eggs in my whitetail basket but I feel like I'm going to have some kind of a rebirth for [00:16:00] love of Turkey hunting now that my kids are getting to the age to where I can start taking them out because, Turkey hunting is just it's gonna be that perfect activity to introduce your kids.

It's loud. It can be fast. If they could just stop moving, then yeah, then I think I'm gonna be all right. 

[00:16:18] Paul Campbell: Yeah. It's the perfect way to bring a child or even adults into the pursuit of hunting. You don't have to worry about the wind. You're not hunting when it's super cold. You don't really hunt in the rain, unless you're a nutcase.

And you can talk a little bit like there's, oh yeah, there's some margin, there's some margin for error. Couldn't agree more that there is Yeah. With turkeys that, that you don't get with deer or elk or ducks. Or whatever the other pursuits are. And it's interactive. I can clap my hands and get a Turkey to gobble, if you're just out screwing around with your kids and you get 'em to yell.

Yeah, you might get a Turkey to go. Yeah. And that just hooks 'em, that's it's engaging and so it's a really good way to, to bring people into the pursuit of Turkey hunting. Yeah. And it's a, it's just something that, that for a lot of people, you either [00:17:00] love it. Or you don't like it.

Yeah. And there's, there are the middle ground, but I, I it's one of those that I think a lot of people, just the first time, first couple times they do it, have some sex or success, or don't Yeah. They're like, damn, that was fun. I'm gonna do that 

[00:17:10] Dan Johnson: again. Yeah. Absolutely. So 2008 hits and then it did, it just snowball from there.

You just were like, I, dude I'm a Turkey hunter From that point, . 

[00:17:20] Paul Campbell: It did, man, it I didn't even get close to a Turkey the first couple of years. It was three, my third season I finally killed a Turkey. But I would go out during, in the summer and I would just listen to 'em, in, in the mornings, just talk and communicate.

And I really dove into Turkey calling and becoming proficient at calling. And I'm still not, I'm not winning any championships anytime soon, but I enjoy it. And it just, every, I think with Turkey hunting more so than the. , you learn best by failure, right? Yeah. And you can't teach experience.

And so a lot of those fir in the first Turkey was just dumb luck. I I was just, I'd walked all over the place and I'm just standing there and this thing, this bird had just been listening to me call, had never called, never gobbled once, [00:18:00] and he just hammered off 40 yards behind me and I tie into a thicket and j and he just pops out into this clear cut and I shoot him, yeah. And that was one of those but there's no interaction. And so as I. More and more into it. Experience it. You get that. I think and this is what really hooks me. Some of the best hunts I've had are when I walk out empty-handed. Yeah. And I went back and forth with this Turkey for four or five hours sometimes.

See him. You don't see him. See him? Don't see him. You're moving. He's moving. Yeah. You're dealing with hens, you're following 'em through the woods. You're stalking em, you're doing all these things. And they check up at 60 yards and he's just hammering and drumming and spitting and jumping up in the air.

And you're, you're, I like, my head's gonna explode just talking about it. But you never get to pull the trigger, and then he just walks off and you're like, why did he leave? I have no idea. Those are the best. So I mean it, those are what really drew me into it. , over the next years and, I started hunting in different states and I, one of the, one of the things that I really like is, the hunter camps that you get that, that the states put out throughout the country, that's free to stay.

You, you just, there's a really intense culture around Turkey [00:19:00] hunting in the spring. Yeah. And just the people that you meet, on those hunts were really neat. Yeah. Yeah. I'm still convinced to this day that I met Brett. in the Turkey woods. Really? If it wasn't, if it wasn't Brett Fav, it was his freaking doppelganger.

And I didn't wanna be that. He had Wisconsin tags, he had everything. I'm like, I didn't wanna be that guy. That was like, are you Brett Fav? . But still convinced that I met Brett Favre. And I'm hunting with an eight 70 and this dude's got like a $4,000 Pinelli. Yeah, it had to be Brett Far, man.


[00:19:25] Dan Johnson: was it. That's, Hey, Brett Farve, if you're listening right now, Paul Campbell wants to go Turkey hunting. . Yes. Make it happen, man. Make it happen. So there you go. Hey did I ever tell you the story that I filmed at one point? I don't think it's the record anymore, but I was the camera guy when a guy one of my old buddies, Todd Prence, most people know him for for deer hunting, but he saw a tom out in his back field.

He called me up and said, Hey, I wanna video this. and we had found a decoy. He was mowing [00:20:00] his ditch and he hit it. He hit a hen decoy with his lawnmower and it, so it was just beat to shit. We stuck it on an arrow. The first afternoon we went out there cuz this was an af. These were afternoon hunts.

Went out there, we saw it strutting with a hand, but nothing happened. The next afternoon we went out and did the same thing and this Tom just boom comes, it comes in, starts strutting, works his way into archery range, and he shot it. And we didn't know what we had shot at that point. And so we called up this other dude and he's dude, if it got as many beard, it had seven beard.

Oh my God. Seven beards. And we measured it. We had, we took it down to Missouri, we weighed it. They measured the spurs, they measured the the beard. And it was the world record. The world record atypical Turkey with archery equipment. And wow. And so since then I, it's been broken, but we're, we were just like they keep score on Turkey.

[00:21:00] Like we, we didn't know that. And so it was pretty cool to be there when when that record was broken, man. It was pretty 

[00:21:05] Paul Campbell: That is pretty. I wanna see, I like to see that video. I bet that was funny. It's, it dude is at that point you have to like, with that tur, that decoy in the arrow.

Yeah. Like you have to kill something with it. Oh, yeah. At that point, I'm gonna use it and I'm gonna use it until I kill something. Off of that. 

[00:21:17] Dan Johnson: Off that decoy. And so what, whether it is a Oh, how do I put this? Whether it's a whitetail or a Turkey and people like, they shoot some kind of record and they're wearing like Walmart camo or no camo at all.

Or they're using, people are paying thousands of dollars sometimes for Turkey decoys, and we I brought one in with a trash bag one time. He brought this one in with this jalopy. It was, it had lawnmower cuts that he put tape on, so it would stand up straight. That's hilarious. And so that's hilarious.

And so he broke the record and I'm sure there's guys out there who have spent their whole life just wanting to shoot some kind of record book Turkey. And so we did. [00:22:00] And that was his, oh, and by the way, that was his first Turkey ever shot. . 

[00:22:04] Paul Campbell: Oh, good for him, man. Yeah. , that's like shooting, that's like shooting the Milo Hansen buck on your first

Yeah, exactly. On your first hunt, exactly. It's all downhill from 

[00:22:12] Dan Johnson: there at that point. So you get fired up about, Turkey hunting and then, so recently recently you took a. with the National Wild Turkey Federation. Why don't you explain to people listening what it is you do for that organiz.


[00:22:32] Paul Campbell: I am the director of development for the National Wild Turkey Federation for the central east part of the country. So I, my territory, I cover Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York little bit into New Jersey and some up into New England. So my job, I'm probably the most least important person at that organization.

But what I do, I work with the members and with the volunteers and the donors to the federation to create, to generate fundraising, to generate [00:23:00] money coming in. So I work with major gifts so philanthropic minded individuals that, that understand what it takes to move the needle in wildlife conservation.

So it's not just wild turkeys, it's deer, it's pheasant, all wild animals benefit from the conservation work that, that we do. So the mission of the Wild Turkey Federation. Excuse me. National Wild Turkey Federation is the conservation of the Wild Turkey, everything that, that's around that. And then the preservation of our hunting heritage.

So it's two, two parts. So it's, yeah, in, it's, it's hands in the dirt type stuff. It's outreach, and then you've got the, a lot of lobbying efforts to go on protecting hunting rights, protecting private property rights, protecting public rights or public property rights, easements and all that stuff.

So it's really, it's a really neat mission statement. So yeah I work to keep the people that are doing the work, the outreach coordinators, the biologists, the foresters, keep those people doing what they need. 

[00:23:47] Dan Johnson: Okay. And , you get to interact with a lot. It sounds like a lot of people from all different, walks of life throughout your Yeah.

Your monthly, weekly, however, year at [00:24:00] their Yep. Talk about, so I look at whitetails like a, it's going the route of a rich man's sport, right? Where. E everybody is obsessed with big bucks. Everybody wants to have a honey hole that nobody else hunts, and people care really deeply about, I don't know, almost keeping Whitetails private.

And they want to, they wanna the direction, there's obviously this huge public land movement, but. Properties through and Iowa's a perfect example of this, as properties get sold, o the people who, you know, the people who die off or have farmed, wanna pass their, they pass it on to their children, it either gets split up four or five ways sometimes, or it just gets straight up sold to a non-resident landowner or, anyway, the whole point I'm getting at is here.

[00:25:00] Turkeys seem to have not be affected by that because I feel like you can still get permission on some farms to Turkey hunt. You can get you can get a group of guys together and talk openly about Turkey hunting spots and nobody will, nobody will really care because it's Turkey, it's not deer.

Talk to us a little bit about why you think that is. . 

[00:25:23] Paul Campbell: That's a great, that's a great question. So I think the easy one, when you look at and you just said it, people are obsessed with growing big deer, so there's a measurable, a quantifiable, yeah. Don Antler on my head, Dan, a quantifiable idea of what a big deer is.

And that's, that's a score. How many points, how large they are. I think Turkey hunting avoids a lot of that. Like you said, you didn't even know that people scored turkeys. And it's not, I think Turkey hunting has avoided and will always avoid the the trappings of other pursuits.

Yeah. In terms of trophy status most of [00:26:00] the turkeys that, prob that, that get killed year and year out are two and a half year old turkeys. Those are the ones that come in. They are hammering like crazy because they're young, they're fired up. It's, their first breeding season, they're strutting around and.

Yeah. They're dumb. . And so we exploit that. So most of the turkeys that die are two and a half years old. Yeah. In the deer woods, the two and a half year old deer is not considered a trophy in most circumstances. So I think with Turkey hunting it's the Turkey that's willing to die that you get to interact with, that's the one that, that's the trophy.

And it doesn't matter if it's a, if it's a 10 year old Turkey, mature Turkey, or if it's one that's young and I. This beard here that I've got, that's a 12 inch beard that is, that's over 12 inches. That's a trophy in the, and that's a huge beard. Yeah. I may never see that again in my lifetime.

 And, most of them. And I don't care. And that's the thing. It doesn't matter to me and to Turkey hunters, it doesn't matter. And I think one of the other things that I talk about deer going the route of the rich man sport, of an elitist mentality, if you will. There are people [00:27:00] alive right now.

that didn't have turkeys to hunt when they were our age. Yeah. Kids, yeah. And I think that if deer had gone through that same process or they will go through that where you don't have deer the populations drop where you lose access, you lose rights and you've gotta.

Collectively come together like Turkey hunters did back in the sixties and seventies to reestablish populations. Yeah. I think if you had that, I think people would be willing to, I think the mindset would be different in the deer woods. Yeah. It would be. The more people we have doing it, the more eyes we have on this the better, yeah. And I hope that never happens, because that means the population suffer and we don't wanna see that. But yeah, I think that's two of, two of the big things. One, we didn't have turkeys within our lifetime, and two, we avoid some of the, the trophy status. 

[00:27:46] Dan Johnson: Yeah. If you will.

Yeah. You did a really good job of explaining that I look at a beard or big spurs as the cherry on. , right? You can't pass a Turkey. I'm sure there's guys who have done it where they're just observing him and going, [00:28:00] wow, his spurs just aren't long enough, or his beard's not long enough.

I'm looking for something better. A lot of guys probably don't do that where, and so big spurs and a big beard is the cherry on top where For sure. And it's everything else. That is the experience. Now when you compare that to Whitetails, the antlers are the big focus. And if he comes in and does something, That's the cherry on top.

But for sure it doesn't matter at that point because you're gonna shoot the big antler deer over, Hey, it could be day one of my hunt, it could be day 14 of my hunt. I don't know. I, it's just it's different. in a good way. You know what I mean? I think turkeys, the turkeys just allow people to go out and have a blast and yes.

And there's just a little less concern on, or little less concern of being so serious about it. 

[00:28:52] Paul Campbell: Yeah. Yeah. And I, I think that you're gonna have a segment of Turkey hunters that have that elitist mentality. Yeah. And I talk to [00:29:00] 'em, I meet 'em, I deal with. You're always gonna have that.

And it's such a, it's such a small percentage of the hunters within the Turkey hunting culture and the world. They give a crap about the beard side. I can tell you right now, if you have, there's a good chance, if you have a really old, mature Tom, , this guy could be six or seven years old.

If he's fortunate, he could have beard rot. Yeah. This could be the biggest, literally the biggest Turkey in the war in the zone. And he's got a little four inch, three inch stubby beard. Yeah. Because he's got mites eating his beard, yeah. And so is that Turkey less desirable?


[00:29:28] Dan Johnson: not. Yeah. Yeah. That's cool, ma'am. What's the biggest time you've ever. Ah, this one right here. That, so that was 11 or that's a 12 

[00:29:37] Paul Campbell: inch here. No, he was, yeah, he's almost 12 and a half. And I don't know. I didn't, I've never weighed Turkey. Yeah. I'm gonna be honest with you. I usually got him right there.

But he got it's funny, it was one of the, , you see this jar back here with all these feathers? Yeah. So that's his fan. So this guy was huge and so I, I pluck him and skin him out. And it was like super hot that, that year here in Ohio. And I [00:30:00] put, I did I just set this Turkey like.

outside and I, fan 'em out. You put Borax on 'em. Long story short, like somehow, like a bunch of maggots got in this thing like really fast. Yeah. And just destroyed all of the, like the structure little, 

[00:30:14] Dan Johnson: the tissue Yeah. That holds 

[00:30:15] Paul Campbell: together Yeah. That hold it. Yeah. And I and so the feathers are all like right there.

These fans like twice the size of the rest of these on my wall. Yeah. He was just this massive Turkey and, but I've got the beard. I got his spurs behind me. He's got some hooks on him. , but the rest of 'em have been just, good turkeys, man. Two, two and a half year old turkeys come in with their freaking hair on fire.

Yeah. And that's what I'm looking for. Yeah, this guy right here, he was a swamp Turkey, so he had his legs were all stained up black and everything. It was cool, man. It was, it's definitely the coolest Turkey I've ever killed. Yeah. 

[00:30:44] Dan Johnson: The, some of the, I. , I cut my teeth on Turkey hunting in river bottom ground.

And so a lot of it was the best. The wet, they're just they're literally roosting right along a river. And you get down in some, into those, in that floodplain, in that flat [00:31:00] area, no terrain at all. And you just call 'em down and they just, there's not a lot of cover down there. You just lean up against a tree and they work in, and and that's how I cut my teeth.

And one year I shot one that was 29 pounds. I've never broke the 30 yard mark yet, but my my brother my stepbrother, he shot a 34 pound Turkey. It was freaking, it was gigantic yeah. That's awesome. Yeah. What else? I've heard, I've heard the N W T F does some really cool things specifically out in the mountains.

I think it was, I wanna say New Mexico or Arizona. They did a whole project where they went in timbered, an entire mountainside and, got. Got the Turkey species, did a whole bunch of habitat work for the the Turkey species in that area. I think they were the re Rio Grande. Go.


[00:31:57] Paul Campbell: there were golds, the Gould's revival. Gould's Revival is [00:32:00] what you're talking about. Okay. Okay. That was in Arizona up into New Mexico. So there was the Goulds is just a, is one of the subspecies Yeah. Of, of turkeys that we have in North America. So the Goulds historically had been south of the border, historically, meaning, through hunting and lack of habitat.

Those turkeys had just migrated south, so they weren't in their native territory. So through, 10 or 15 years of just hard grinding work with state agencies, with volunteers members, conservation staff through the N W T F, they were able to reestablish the populations, huntable populations, and.

into their original territory. Yeah. So the ghouls revival, I believe is what you're talking about. Yeah. It was one of those, A ton of, yeah, a ton of work that went in there. Chasing 49. Those guys do a really good job of some video work They did. Tom Opry did some work with the Ghouls Revival.

So if you just get out there and just type in GH Gould's revival on YouTube, there's some really well done. Video work on those, so Yeah. Yeah. That's a big one. Yeah. But yeah there's a big focus out west with the National [00:33:00] Watery Federation. We just signed a 20 year, 50 million serv forestry service agreement with the US Forest Service.

And so what that means is we're going in we're doing the controlled burns, we're doing the timber, we're doing all these things. We're trying to prop. Wildlife habitat through forestry work out west and the, one of the big things that's gonna happen, it's gonna reduce the forest fires that are going on out there.

Yeah. Which, that's bad for humans and critters. That's a really big deal. So there's a lot of work going out west. There's a lot of work going on all over every inch of this country through this through this organization. 

[00:33:30] Dan Johnson: Yeah. Yeah. I feel. The N W T F and this is just a very limited knowledge base about that organization is doing it right.

When it comes to conservation, I mean we, I mean you're, you have a little bit of a biased answer cuz you work for them, but do you feel that they have a good grasp on conservation efforts in general? 

[00:33:53] Paul Campbell: Yes, I do. And obviously I'm a homer, but I've been a supporter of this organization since the very first year that I hunted turkeys.[00:34:00] 

And there's, I see a lot of criticism from people online about the National Wild Turkey Federation. A lot of that is rooted in the fact that there are population declines. So when you have the name. wild Turkey, you're like the defacto torch bearer of the animal, right? And so as an organization where the populations declined, we've gotten a lot of hate online over the years.

What have they done for us recently? And so when you look at an a a non-profit, every non-profit, every company really has a mission. And it's what we do. Yeah. That's what it is. And already talked about that. So we accomplished our mission, our first mission. Was to reestablish turkeys in every hun or every, all of their native ranges.

So 49 states. And we did that. We did that in 1990, I think it was, I think it was 97 that we accomplished that the goal was Target 2000. So we did that. So when an organization reaches their mission, it's just so you got all these, cancer eradicate cancer. When cancer goes away, you're sitting there going what do we do?

And so I think there was some of that trying to figure out, okay, what do we do now as [00:35:00] an organization? And so Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt was a big 12 year initiative through the organization. And so what we did, and we finished, we completed the goals two years early. We completed 'em in 2020.

So 5.2 million acres conserved and enhanced 1.5 million hunters recruited or reactivated or retained and then 700,000 acres open to public across the country. So when you talk about impact, positive impact on the landscape for. Hunters and just a ton of animals. Different species, songbirds, migratory songbirds, migratory waterfowl turkeys, deer, elk, moose, bear, all of it.

It is a very it is a very fine high tune machine man. Yeah. That's when, that's awesome. When it comes to wildlife conservation and then outreach as well. So yeah, it's really neat to see, to be a part of it and. with my position, I get to watch the animal move. Yeah. I love, when I say the animal, the organization and the people doing 

[00:35:51] Dan Johnson: the work.

Yeah. Yeah. That's awesome. And I just, after working with some other whitetail organizations in the past, and then hearing people talk about [00:36:00] the n w tf, I feel like there's a difference in passion level. Yes. I just feel like the Turkey community is just really passion. About that, where in the whitetail world I wouldn't say that it's a different kind of passion.

It's a selfish passion and not a community passion, if that makes sense. Yeah. And I know there's gonna be guys out there that are, Like, will disagree with me wholly on that. It's just a vibe that I have and that it all goes back to the first couple comments that I made where it's, whitetail seems to be in, in every man's hum.

Species to hunt where white tails is almost a little, if you wanna shoot a big deer, you gotta have some kind of an elitist, I don't know. And that's not for everybody. Yeah. Because there's guys out there like we both know, who go out and slay giants on, high pressured public land every year.

But yeah, the vibe that I get [00:37:00] is, that guy would not share his spots with another deer hunter, but a Turkey. Might go out, see a whole bunch of Tom, shoot one, and then go tell another guy, Hey dude, I saw some turkeys back here. Go, share that information. So I don't know that's, that could be accurate.

That's just my view of it all. So 

[00:37:20] Paul Campbell: I think you're, I think you're right and I think that passion. is tied into the heritage and the heritage of hunters. And I'm talking about like modern hunting. I'm not talking about, the Native Americans, but I'm talking about the people that, that really have created the modern hunter that we know.

And I think that where the passion is so steeply rooted and just entrenched and the culture of all Turkey hunters is that we didn't have them 50 years ago. . Yeah. And so those people like CU Strickland and Toxi Hayes and Will Primos and all of these guys that we know now is but the jury brothers and they got their start Turkey hunting, which I don't think most people really know that.

Yeah. They're as diehard as you come. I think the fact that those guys. [00:38:00] that are in their fifties, sixties now. They didn't have the opportunities that people have. I think there's a level of respect that's been ingrained in the generations of Turkey hunters that have followed by those guys that in the sixties, seventies and eighties, really formed the culture that we have now.

Yeah. So I think that respect is different and you don't have that respect because you haven't had to coalesce together to create the opportunities that we have now. Yeah. If Deere disappeared two years from now, and you were leading the charge. You're like, this is bullshit. We need to do all, we need to come together and work harder in 20, 30 years.

That, that mentality would be completely different because people have lost something in the Turkey world and there's a greater appreciation, I think, for the bird. Yeah. That's why people get worked up about it, man. Yeah. With populations and they get angry and they won answers and they want results.

And I think a lot of people are willing 

[00:38:49] Dan Johnson: to do it. So Yeah, absolutely. Let's talk, and I know you're not a biologist, but I'm sure you have your ear to, on the wire and on the pulse of the nwtf. There [00:39:00] is, and I can just speak from experience. The I can remember going out into one ridge on a big block of timber in a river bottom and I would hurt, hear.

Tom's sound off in the, in a good morning, and I just you would hear 'em circle, they would kick another tom to start gobbling and it would just loop around this whole, the whole valley and s that was 10 years ago, 12 years ago now going out. It is nothing like that at all.

You'll hear some turkeys gobble, but. Like the population is just not there anymore. Why is that? 

[00:39:43] Paul Campbell: Yeah, that's a great, that's a great question. And with the job that I have you've met me. I'm a big dude. You paint a target on my chest and my back and you're right. Ask this guy about Turkey decline.

Yeah. And I go around the country and I get my face kicked in. Yeah. About this. And it's one that, that. [00:40:00] that I like to answer. I like to talk about this. And so I always start out with, and you've said it, I'm not a biologist, I just regurgitate facts of the population that I hear people that are smarter than me and I ask questions from a point of wanting to understand and a point of curiosity.

Yeah. Because I want turkeys to be on this landscape for generations to come. So I think when you look at. When you look at Turkey population declines across the country, it really started so the cradle of turkeys in their infancy, forties to the seventies was the southeast of this country. And so those turkeys, we trapped them.

We moved them across, into New England, into the central states, into the, the Midwest and we were moving the other subspecies. So there's trap and transfers that went out. So the. The Turkey originated from really the southeast, the populations that we know. And so the decline really started.

People have been suffering with population declines in the southeast for 15 years, and it's just now maybe even longer than that. It's just now getting into the point like in Wisconsin and Minnesota and [00:41:00] in Ohio, where we're like, oh, we got we see an issue. And it just started recently, so there are a.

a lot of reasons that we have population declines for wild turkeys across the country. There's no smoking bullet, there's no, or, silver bullet. There's no smoking gun. There's no one reason. Yeah. That turkeys have suffered population decline. And so as human beings like our instinct when something bad happens, we just wanna say It's a raccoon.

That's why. Yeah. And that's it. Case closed, kill all the raccoons. It's not, and so that's the, people are looking for something easy to say, but it's not, it's death by a thousand paper cuts, right? Yeah. It's raccoons, it's nest rats, it's predators. It's a lack of or it's a loss of habitat.

, it's a loss of nesting habitat, brute habitat, nesting, brood habitats. That stuff that's little. Yeah. It's that, that, that little, 12 to 15 inch, 18 inches or whatever. And I'm not a biologist. don't jump outta your skin. But it's that lower stuff that those little PTs can hide from predators.

It's where the bugs are, so there's all these things. There's a ton of research going on about pesticide impacts on, on, [00:42:00] on pulses and gut bacteria and stuff like that. So the number one, and this is just, I've heard this from everyone so if you had two. Two issues. You're like, this is the number top two reasons that we have the population declines.

One is a lack of that habitat, that nesting habitat, that brood habitat, good, sufficient habitat. When people say 15 years ago on my farm, I had, I had awesome Turkey populations there. Have you done anything to keep 'em there? Yeah. No. Okay. Your woods have changed in those 15 years, and so people don't like to hear that.

They, that's not, they don't want to know. They don't want to be told. Yeah. You could go a mile down the. And you've got good populations. Yeah. Where those turkeys just over generations have moved away. So that's one thing. I think the biggest thing for population declines is cold, wet springs, Turkey, PTs, baby turkeys, they can't regulate their body temperature the first two weeks of their life.

So if it is cold and rainy, wherever you're at in the country, you were going to have baby poles die. Just unavoidable. And so I know here in Ohio [00:43:00] 17, 18, 19 were really bad, cold, wet springs. Just miserable to hunt in. Farmers were getting corn and beans planted late. It was just, yeah, it was just awful.

So then fast forward those two and a half year old Toms that we love that they're dumb. They're gobbling like crazy. Cut that in. . Yeah. And so you, you get the, you get that cycle and it's, and there's so many things. There's disease, there's predation, there's all these things that people were trying to find out.

So that's the reason why. All of it. That's the answer. All of it. Yeah. Predation, avian, mammalian, predation cold, wet springs, everything. And it's hard for humans to understand that because we can't control it, right? Yeah. We can't control the weather. It's more of an 

[00:43:38] Dan Johnson: avalanche type scenario.

Yeah. It just keeps getting worse and worse. . 

[00:43:42] Paul Campbell: Yeah. And we can just hide under rocks and let the snow go over us. And then when it's over with, we'll figure, we'll dig out from there. So I think for people that are seriously considering managing property for turkeys, or if you are a landowner you can do the work.

Burning is like the number one tool for nest habitat. Yeah. And little Turkey hunting [00:44:00] tip there. Some of those mapping softwares will have controlled burns on state. Man, that's a dynamic spot to hunt. So there's a little tip there for you, Dan, but so I, I think it's a very complicated answer.

It's a very complicated Yeah. Situation. There's a ton of nuance to it, and there's a ton of emotion in it. And so when you get the emotion involved in it it gets hard to manage. And the state agencies are really under a lot of pressure from. Yeah, and a lot of the state agencies reacted slow to lessening, like to, to reducing bag limits in the spring.

If we would've done that across the country five or six years ago, we'd be better off. I saw in Ohio we reduced our population. I saw more tur our bag limits. Excuse me. I saw more Jakes in the landscape this year than I have in years. So I think you're gonna see a slow. Recovery of a lot of pop, but it's gonna take a ton of work.

It's gonna take patience. It's gonna take people come together to to continue that work that that this, n wtf and hunters and members started back and, 50 years ago. 

[00:44:54] Dan Johnson: Yeah. Yeah. It's fun. Hunters are a funny bunch of people they [00:45:00] will complain about, and I'll just use Turkey hunting for example.

Turkey hunters will say, I love Turkey hunting. I care a lot about the wild. . There's not a lot of wild Turkey in my area due to population to climb, but I'm gonna go out and I'm still gonna fill every single tag. Yeah. I feel like if you really did love an animal that much and it was that much of an issue for you, go call 'em in, but don't shoot 'em.

Yeah. If Whitetails were in, in a dangerously low spot where I was only seeing. Two bucks a year, maybe I should just, Hey, maybe I should change the way I hunt. But no one ever does that. So I feel like hunters are a group of people that their mindsets need to change because, and I'm, I am just as guilty of this as everybody else.

We do a lot of bitching, but there's times [00:46:00] where we don't take any. We just we bitch and we bitch. And then that's what we do. We bitch, but we don't do anything about it. And so I feel like that's a little bit of a mind, a mindset change that needs to happen with all, all hunting, not just pursuits.

Yeah. All pursuits. Yeah. 

[00:46:16] Paul Campbell: AB absolutely. And it's it's tough man. I was traveling last year and I was meeting with some just really good Turkey hunters. We shared a Turkey. Tur Turkey camp together had a great time. And you get those old war stories, yeah.

And it's oh, back in 1994, whatever it was, we used to come out here and, we had this guy, great caller, and everyone knows this guy really popular within the Turkey woods. They're like, yeah. One year he took guided 73 people that took turkeys off of this 3000 acre farm. Yeah.

One guy was responsible for the death of 73 turkeys. Obviously he didn't pull the trigger, but, and then you got other people and then in the, the next sentence was we just don't see the turkeys like we used to. And I'm like, you understand the correlation, right? , like you, I'm not an, I'm a dumbass and I could tell you right now, like you probably weren't, using [00:47:00] wise strategy back in the mid nineties homie.

Yeah. So I think there, there is responsibility on hunter's. And I think as hunters as a group, like we self-regulate all the time. If you're out in the middle of Montana and you've already killed a bull, but you've got a cow tag and a bull comes up, you could shoot that bull elk, pack it out and no one would know.

But we don't do a massive majority of us don't do that. Because that's not the way that we do things. Yeah, the written rules and the unwritten rules and the ethics and the codes, within that, it's, it's there. And I think as with Turkey hunters, you get a lot of people that That respect that.

Yeah. And there, there are states down, like right now, like I think Alabama, last year you could take four turkeys from Alabama or yeah, from Alabama. Four. Yeah. That's crazy. And it's like the number one state where people complain the most about Turkey population decline is Alabama.

And it's stop shooting four turkeys in Tennessee. And like all these states, it's, but the reason that, that the states don't do it, they don't reduce those bag limits, is because they feel pressure from hunters that say, this is bull crap. You're taking something from. And it's [00:48:00] not and the mentality needs to be, I'm not, we're not taking something from you.

We're making sure that it's here for you. 

[00:48:05] Dan Johnson: Five years, it's here for 

[00:48:06] Paul Campbell: you, and the year after that, it's here. Yeah. It's a big picture and so many people have, that small mindset that I'm, I'm gonna kill 50 turkeys this year. Good for you, man. I hope you have a blast. It's legal. Do it.

But there's, there's consequences for those actions, and I it's a personal conversation that people need to have 

[00:48:23] Dan Johnson: absolutely. Absolutely. All right. The How to Hunt Turkey podcast, right? Oh yeah. It. What days do we have it launching? Tuesdays.

Tuesdays. Every Tuesday. Every Tuesday. All right. So yesterday an episode launch. I'm gonna launch this on a Wednesday. So yesterday a brand new episode launched. We're only like, what, three episodes 

[00:48:44] Paul Campbell: in This is we have an intro and then the episode from yesterday will be our second full episode.

[00:48:49] Dan Johnson: That's out. Okay? Okay. All right. It's still brand new. What can we expect to hear out of the How to Hunt Turkey podcast? 

[00:48:59] Paul Campbell: Oh man. [00:49:00] I have had a blast recording these interviews that I have. So the How to Hunt Turkeys podcast. It's not just Go to this ridge and call. There is some of that, right?

The actual like how to hunt Turkey. So we talked about like the culture that surrounds Turkey hunting, the mystique that's around Turkey hunting. This podcast is for people that have never Turkey hunted, that wanna learn. This is for people that have been Turkey hunting for years and wanna become better.

And this is for people that are the best and just wanna hear some interesting entertaining Turkey. Turkey talk, right? So the epi, like the episode that just dropped yesterday, camera Weddington from the Turkey Hunter Podcast, the Godfather on Instagram. We, he came on, we talked about preseason preparation.

All of the things that a Turkey hunter needs to do from fitness to patterning your shotgun, the type of gun you need to use, the type of ammo, choke tubes, the process to patterning your gun. So it's really, camo boots, everything that you need to use. So you're gonna learn a lot in that episode.

And we talked tactics. With Cameron, but a lot of the guys coming up good Turkey hunters, Dave Owens, hunter, farrier, Phillip Cole Pepper, we got some biologists coming [00:50:00] on talking about the mind of the Turkey. What a Tom, like his mindset during that breeding season. We all know what a Bucks mindset is.

Yeah. Yeah. We know, the rut, we know what they're looking for. It's very it's a combination of a lot of the heart of a Turkey hunter, the soul. Why we. And a lot about how we do it. So yeah. Great conversations with everyone. Really an all-star cast so far and I'm looking forward to it yeah, me too.

It's been a lot of fun, man. And the response just from the first episode has been tremendous. People reaching out to me on Instagram and go wild and texting and emailing and everything, it's been pretty cool, man. This is the time of year people want to absorb content, about Turkey hunting, so there's some of that, but, , but the conversations are good, and it's not me.

I'm an idiot. It's the people that come on man, they're just super interesting and they're good at talking about Turkey yeah, absolutely. Yeah. This gonna, it's gonna make you a better Turkey hunter. Like I said, regardless of your level. Of killing turkeys. This is gonna make you better.

And it's, I think even, and even for the seasoned guys, I think they're gonna just enjoy the stories that come out of it. Absolutely. Tur Turkey hunting the one way,[00:51:00] like I said earlier, the only, the best way to learn is through failure. And we've ha I've had some talks with guys and that's how you learn.

You learn what not to do and then you put that into practice. So yeah. Really neat stuff, man. Looking forward to it. 

[00:51:11] Dan Johnson: Yeah, I I don. I don't get me wrong, I love wat hunting, but Turkey hunting is, can be really fun. And because like for me, I don't take it serious expectations. The level is very low.

I've, killed a lot of turkeys in my day, and I just feel like it's it's a, it's an event where you can go out with a group of people. Hit up the woods, chase down a couple times and just have an absolute blast, man. Yeah. It 

[00:51:41] Paul Campbell: is it's 

[00:51:42] Dan Johnson: so much fun. Yeah. And me saying that, Makes me wanna now go do it.

. So yeah. Heck yeah, man. Yeah. So I'm looking forward to this spring, Paul, man, I really appreciate you taking time outta your day to hop on and bs with us. A little bit about Wild Turkey and how jacked up you get about it. Let's see here. [00:52:00] Tuesdays is when the podcast launches. And I'm looking here.

Wednesday is when the Ohio Outdoors Podcast launches. Yeah. And Insta, what's the Instagram tag for the How to Hunt Turkey podcast? 

[00:52:13] Paul Campbell: It's H two h t podcast on Instagram. 

[00:52:17] Dan Johnson: H two H T podcast. And that's the How To Hunt Turkey podcast. Go give that a follow. Lots of good content coming out of there, Paul.

Appreciate everything. Have a good spring, man. Man, it's been fun. Thanks for having me on, man. Yeah, absolutely. And that's it. Hopefully you guys enjoyed this podcast, man. I love talking to Paul. He's a high energy guy, loves what he's doing. And hopefully that reflected in this episode. Please go to iTunes, leave a five star review on the Nine Finger Chronicles.

Or if you're listening to this on the Sportsman's Empire Podcast Network, please leave a five star review. Let everybody know that the content coming out of our I guess you would call it in, I guess in the [00:53:00] fashion world, they call it the Sportsman's Empire. House of the Sportsman's Empire, please go leave a five star review.

That helps everybody out and lets everybody know that the content that we're putting out is second to none, in my opinion. Huge shout out to Tethered. Huge shout out to wasp. Huge shout out to HuntStand in Vortex. Please go check out fish and And man, it's that time of year where we're all coming off the high of the hunting season.

There's some guys down south who are still hunting, but for the most part, the entire Midwest and West is done and it's time to. Reflect and it's all about good vibes. So good vibes in, good vibes out. Wear your safety harness and we'll talk to you next time.