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Turkey Scenario.....Choose your own adventure


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Your hunting the third season on private property. It has been hunted both seasons before you. Light is just barely starting to break and you are standing on top of a ridge, in an alfala field, on the edge of the woods. A Tom sounds off a ways out the wooded ridge, maybe a couple hundred yards from you. He sounds like he is right on top of the ridge.

What do you do, it is possible to close the gap some, and it is still dim out. Try and get as close to him as possible in the woods without him seeing you? Set up right there in the alfalfa field?

You made your choice. It keeps getting lighter and finally you let out a few soft tree yelps, and he thunders back with a double gobble immediately.

What do you do? Shut up because he knows you are there? Keep talking to him and keep him fired up as long as he keeps answering? Keep calling but sparringly?

You made your choice. You hear him fly down. One of four things will happen. How do you respond?

1. He hits the ground and goes silent. Do you keep calling? How long do you wait before moving on him, assuming he may be coming in silent?

2. He hits the ground and just keeps gobbling, moving towards your location. Do you keep talking?

3. He hits the ground, keeps talking, but moves away from your location. What do you do?

4. He hits the ground and you hear the dreaded hen yelp with him. Do you give up and find another bird while it is still early?

Just a little scenario, all of which has happened to me at some point in time. And unfortunately I have chosen the wrong approach more times than not confused.gif

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In all scenarios, Don't over call and stop calling if you see the bird so you don't get pin-pointed.

1. I was working a bird one morning that was answering well then shut up. He didn't say a word for 45 minutes so I got up and moved back about 40 yards and sat down for a quick snack. I dig a soda out of my pack and looked up to see him staring at me from 20 yards away. Real turkeys always make noise so my theory is that he waited until he heard leaves crunching and figured his "hen" was walking away and decided to follow. Add some leaf scratching in to your calling. If he shuts up, soften your calling and throw the calls away from the direction of the bird.

2. The closer he gets, the less calling you need to do. If he's gobbling hard, I would NOT answer him every time. He's trying to get you to come to him but you need to play hard to get. If he's that hot, he'll come in looking and, again, you don't want to get pin-pointed.

3. The move away bird may be a done deal. He probably either has hens or knows a spot away from your direction where he normally finds them. He's not the only gobbler in the woods. If it's early, I would sit tight and hope to strike another bird.

4. If you can hear the hen, copy everything she says. You may be able to turn her and call her in, bringing Mr. Wattles with her. I heard some real hens having a battle one morning and you should have heard the valley light up with gobbles. You might try using multiple calls and purring loudly and aggressively on both, overlapping the sounds from the two calls. Sometimes the other birds just have to come in to see what the fuss is about.

Multiple call selection is an advantage. If a bird turns off one call, grab another, different sounding call and try that. It's like fishing lure colors--sometimes green is great sometimes, another color makes them strike.

Turkeys are a mystery. Scouting is a definite advantage. Find out what the birds do, where they go on a regular basis. That way it will be easier to call them if you are sitting where they already want to be.

(DISCLAIMER-- The opinions expressed by TomBow do not necessarily reflect the opinions of a rational human being. He does hunt Turkeys, ya know and appears to have an addiction to the sport)

Best of Luck!

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"Made your choice," to me, means I closed the gap and got within 150 yards of his roost tree without him seeing me, as that's what I would've done. I'll be answering the questions from that scenario. Also, I would try one more series of soft yelps, just to make sure he was gobbling at me before flydown.

1. I shut up for at least 20-30 minutes and wait him out. Scratch leaves during that time. If nothing after that amount of time, I'll try some soft clucks/purrs. If still nothing, I'll yelp after some time has passed. If he's nearby and interested, you should've heard some response (good or bad); and/or heard the hens he moved off with.

2. Now I definitely shut up. Not a peep. He'll find you. The more you make him hunt, the better your shot will probably be. If he's walking towards you and gobbling I will NOT make a sound.

3. I hate this. He's gobbling over his shoulder as he walks away. Every time you call, he "checks" your call for acknowledgement, but keeps moving his merry way. My move from here depends on (in this order):

-Do I think he's with hens? If I'm pretty sure he's not.....get moving!!! Walk/run, do whatever you have to do to get to the spot he last gobbled, and sing sweetly on your calls. More often than not he'll come running back if alone. You were a hen that just responded positively to his gobbles, and just like in nature, you're at the spot where he was last. This is a VERY killable bird.

-If with hens, do I know the land I'm hunting well? Do I think I can end-around him and cut him off? If patterns of movement aren't well-defined, or i'm lax on the scouting, I tend to move on to bigger and better things. This type of gobbler, moving off with hens is something I pursue if I have no other leads.

4. If they're still both close I try and strike up conversation with the hen. Imitate her every call for the first couple or so until you "have-her." By that I mean she's responding to your every call and getting a bit more vigorous about it. Then start stepping on her calls. Cut her off. Be a jerk. Cutt at her just a little bit for good measure if she keeps it up. You know it's going well when she cranks up the volume on the yelps until her voice is "breaking" by the last few yelps. That's a hen that you have control of more often than not. Hopefully you get her companion when she leads him in on string.

All of these don't work all of the time, but turkey hunting IMO is all about doing everything you can to increase your odds until you meet the right bird. Kind of like dating. grin.gif


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I like the idea of a war of words with a hen. I've drawn gobblers close to their demise while heckling a hen. However, I've ended up in some tough situations with the lonely hen that just wants companionship. I've spent the better parts of some days pinned down by a hen that just wouldn't leave. The last thing you want to do is let her know you are there, because I guarantee everything else in the woods is going to know you are there.

Now, I don't mean to hijack this thread, but here's another scenario. What does a guy do when a hen just won't leave you alone and you really need to make a move?

For what it's worth, here's how I would cope with the scenarioes above.

1) I'll wait him out, if he goes silent does not mean he's not coming. These birds have great memories and a great sense of direction.

2) If he's coming hot, I do little to no calling. He knows the general area, but he doesn't need to know what tree I'm leaning on.

3) If it's one of the first days of the hunt, I want to find out where this bird went after it hit the ground. I'll be there waiting tomorrow morning. There's a reason he went in another direction, and he just might do it again tomorrow.

4) If I hear a hen with him, I'm inclined to wait the dude out. Some hens only show up for a little while in the morning, especially the later you get in the season. The boys hormones might just lead him to the other woman when his main squeeze disappears.

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I had a situation while hunting with my wife where we called in a hen and proceeded to keep her around by mimicking what she said, no aggression just friendly back and forth talk with her trying to find the other hen and sticking in the area. In short order, we had 2 jakes and 2 longbeards within sight that had come in from other directions. In that case it was advantageous to keep the hen around and the gobblers were just out of range but still in the area even after the hen finally left. My wife got to see a longbeard bum-rush the two jakes also. If you don't want the hen around, I would suggest stop talking and maybe she'll walk off.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I agree with jnelson, I would have moved in as close as possible. Soft calling to keep that tom interested is the key until flydown.

1. Typically after that I go quiet with the birds. A few of the books I read and past experience would indicate to me that the birds hit the ground and look around for a while for predators before they start to call out again. Soft Putt and Purrs to keep him coming.

2. This shows me that he is a jake, not real wise. Maybe like a smaller buck during the rut. He figures there will be little competition and just keeps going even after the pitch out. I think it shows the inexperienced bird.

3. You haven't kept his interest with the soft calling OR the bird is farther away then you think. Knowing your hunting spot. Try to figure where you can setup and ambush that bird, if you can.

4. I would try a few more yelps and clucks, if there was no response I would shut down for a short time. Listen for a new bird and either move in on him or try and coax him my way.

A few years ago I had a nice bird 6-8" beard come in. Unfortunately he spotted me before I could reposition for him. He came in on my weak side. He split and I changed calls, it is my understanding that a bird will never come back in to the same call twice. Within five, or so, minutes I had my choice of three other birds of course not as big but I was successful.

347B man do I love that place and time.

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First I'd like to say that we're glad to have you! Come back early and often. We're always glad to have more voices, experienced like yourself, or not.

Changing calls after being busted is never a bad idea, so long as you're just as confident, and sound just as good on the new call. Sometimes spooked birds will come back to the same call I've found, but they usually need some time to settle down; duration depending on the severity of the spooking.

These birds are nervous critters by design, and I once saw them spook each other out by one nervous member of the group alarm-putting at a squirrel. They all flew up in the trees around me. I was just calling at them, and not using a gun, so it was interesting noting their reactions.

I love these things.


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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

Lots of good info here. Just a few things I'd add to the mix. As a few have already mentioned the leaf scratching is an under utilized but very effective technique. It'll really put a gobbler at ease.

The hen scenerio was handled well. I'd just add one thing. Hunt that bird later in the day. He'll come back once he's lost his hens looking for the one he heard. Late morning into early afternoon is a good time to hook up with a henned up gobbler. This is especially true during the later seasons.

Whether I choose to close distance on a tom is also dependent on whether I have a good handle on his usual movements or not. If I know he's always strutting in the alfalfa feild by 8 am I'm more likely to wait him out so I don't take the chance of bumping him or another bird on the way in.

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