Growing up I always had a fascination with spring gobblers. Through trial and error I quickly learned that turkey hunting requires patience, the ability to adapt, and to move fast and quietly when the bird is gobbling 2 ridges over. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way.
- Turkeys rut differently than other animals. During the rut, the gobbler gobbles to the sound of a ready hen. In the turkey world, when the gobbler gobbles he is letting the hen looking to be bred know of his location and she is supposed to come to him. This is where those skills I talked about earlier come in handy. So, instead of the hen meeting up with the gobbler we now must bring the gobbler to us. This can be very difficult at times. If you have ever hunted turkeys, at some point you have likely had a gobbler on fire while he is on the roost and then as soon as daylight hits and he flies down, he goes quiet. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but the most common is because he has flown down and met up with hens. Now some hunters will give up and head in search of another bird. In my opinion that is a BIG mistake. Like I said previously turkey hunting takes patience. If you made your presence known off the roost, after that tom has bred the hens he flew down to, you can bet he’s going to come back looking for that hot hen he heard in the morning.
- Some turkeys seem to hang up just outside of shooting range. Every situation is different, but here are a few things I try when that happens. First, I stop calling (curiosity will usually get the best of them). If that doesn’t work I will back up about 50-60 yards call and act as though I’m walking away and even in some cases gobble to make the tom think there is another player on his turf. And, if none of that works, this is when your stealthiness and ability to think quickly comes into play. Think about the layout of the land you are hunting. Can you get ahead of him? If so, this may be your best choice. Quickly and quietly get in front of him and wait him out, or you can even make him think a hotter hen heard him and is coming from a different location.
- Decoys or no decoys? Once again I believe this comes down to the situation. I have had mature toms come running into decoys and others walk away. I have found that 2 hens to a jake or strutting tom works best. Be careful when putting out a strutting decoy as sometimes if the bird is not mature he will see the strutting tom and quickly leave. Also keep in mind the position of your decoys. You wouldn’t want the gobbler ahead of the hens or grouped up. Usually I put a jake following the hens in a single file line .
Keep in mind every situation is different, but I hope this little blog helps you bring in that stubborn long beard this spring!