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oldbirddogman

Turkey Hunting Tips        Part 4

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oldbirddogman

Conventional wisdom among turkey hunters is that, and I'm sure you've heard it many times, all gobblers are different. No two do the same thing.

This idea is mainly perputrated by those who think it sounds like a smart thing to say, and by those who have not been paying attention to what they have been seeing.

All gobblers DO NOT do different things. Matter off fact, they all, no matter how many you see, will do one of only 8 things. What makes folks think they are doing different things is because they do what they do in different places, take different amounts of time to do it, and may combine two or more of their actions.

Why is it important that you know what a gobbler that you are calling to may do? Well, it certainly helps you figure out what he's doing if you have a short list of all the things he CAN DO in your head. And why is this important? Because once you know what he can do, and learn how to recognize what he is doing, you can develope your tactics to give yourself the highest percentage chance of killing a turkey that's doing what the turkey you're calling to is doing. Whew! If that's not clear, ask me about it.

Keep in mind that whenever you are sitting calling to a gobbler, your mind should be concentrating on determining what that turkey is doing. Once you know that, and you have learned a proper response for his action, you know what you need to do. I do hope this makes sense.

Anyhow, I am going to tell you briefly what 8 options a gobbling turkey has. If you've ever seen a turkey do anything except what I list here, kindly let me know and I will add it to the list. Be aware that if a gobblers does some of the things listed, you have little or no chance of killing him that day.

Here's what gobbling turkeys do:

1. Gobble on the roost and sit there. That is, they simply don't fly down. They may sit there all morning, or until you give up and leave. Your only option here is to avoid this problem. The usual reason for a turkey to sit on the roost long past fly-down time is that he heard you walk in and sit down, often close by. You haven't scared him badly enough for him to have flown off, but badly enough that he won't leave his roost until he knows the danger has passed. Usually, you caused this problem. You may have heard the turkey gobbling and tried to get too close, or you may have just happened to sit down near a turkey that hadn't gobbled yet.

2. The turkey will gobble on the roost, and fly OFF instead of down. I've seen 'em sail a half mile out across a cut-over. They may remain silent on the ground, or may continue to gobble. You still have a chance here, but you have to walk a bit. Same reason for this as #1.

3. The turkey gobbles on the roost, flies down, and comes to your calling, gobbling all the way. This is what you want. You should kill these kinds of turkeys.

4. The turkey gobbles on the roost, flies down, and come in silently. These turkeys seperate the good turkey hunters from the rest. The proper thing to do here is to ALWAYS ASSUME a silent turkey is on the way, and be very alert, and patient.

5. The turkey gobbles on the roost, flies down, and goes away from you while still gobbling. Many hunters try to "get in front of him" by looping around to "cut him off." Sometimes you can, especially if it is a turkey you have hunted previously and know his normal routes. The problem with this tactic is that in order to keep the bird from seeing or hearing you, you often have to travel so far you lose audio contact with him. Then you don't know where he is, and you are in trouble. If you keep moving around much trying to hear him again, you run a good risk of scaring him. The safer course of action is to simply follow the turkey at a safe distance, staying in hearing range. You will find that these turkeys will eventually stop when he runs out of his territory. There he will gobble and strut in one spot for a while. You are now in quite good shape to kill this turkey, for his next move will be back in your direction. He is going home. It may take several hours, but he will head back to where he came from. You need to pick a good seat in the most likely looking return route, call occasionally, and stay with him.

6. The turkey gobbles on the roost, flies down, and goes the other way silently. You have no chance here. Give the turkey plenty of time to start back gobbling, and when he doesn't, quietly back out of the woods. He will be there tomorrow.

7. The turkey gobbles on the roost, flies down, and stays in one spot gobbling and strutting. You can't kill him while he's there and you're here. One of ya'll has to go to the other. I'm not saying you can't ocassionally catch a turkey in a place where the lay of the land allows you to crawl up on him and shoot him. However, your chances of running the turkey off are great. I had rather him come to me anyhow. You simply have to wait out these turkeys. Change callers. Change the way you call. Change locations, if possible. Mainly, just be patient. I have seen turkeys stand in one spot for hours, not moving a step, then, all of a sudden, for no apparent reason, walk straight in to the gun.

8. The turkey gobbles on the roost, flies down, and walks back and forth between two points gobbling. These are easy turkeys to kill if you recognize what they are doing, and the lay of the land allows you to move. When he goes to point "B" from point "A", you slip to point "A" and sit down. He will be right back. This is the same situation as the turkey on a ridge point that was discussed earlier.

There you have it. Now it is up to you to study your turkey, determine what he is doing, and develope you a course of action to counter his moves.

Questions. Comments.

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Tom Winkelman

Thanks for all the tips. I have been spending time on the NWFT site and was pleasantly surprised to see your turkey tip series. It's some of the best info out.

I cann't wait until 5-16 for my alotted time to get in the woods. The property owner told me the 5 weeks before are filled with hunters. He only allows one per week on his 200 acres. I'm also working on another 200 acre parcel for permission. I hope there is a lonely Tom left for me.

I'll let you know how the banquet goes tomorrow nite.

God Bless everyone :unclesam:

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bigkev
Good stuff, Thanks! My opening is on 4/28! The turkeys woke me up this morning at 5:22 am, gobbling their heads off.

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Rick Hall

Hmm.  If I'm wrong it won't be a first.  But it sure seems to me that there are times turkeys stay way late on the roost for reasons unrelated to hunters (that I was aware of) or even decernable weather conditions.  Been more than a few times I've failed to hear early morning gobbling where I'd hoped to, gone exploring and later bumped birds out of trees an hour or so after I thought they should have been down.

And, though we might list the possibilities, I'm not apt to forget sitting next to one of WVa's most successful turkey hunters while a seminar expert assured us that "If you do this, the turkey will do that." and "If you do that, the turkey will do this."  Finally, Larry leaned over and whispered, "Turkey's gonna do what the turkey does."

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Brad Eden

I prefer #3. :D

Sometimes thay do just that. My wife thinks they always do.

She drew a Maine Spring Permit 2-3 years ago. I had some areas scouted out and we headed into one of my hot spots where I had shot a gobbler before. We parked in the dark and headed down a trail towards a small field where I had shot that bird. We got there nice and early just as the sky was beginning to lighten. I figured we'd sit against a huge Birch tree (where I was sitting when I shot that bird) and wait til we heard a gobble and then move. Soon enough some birds started sounding off and one was a mere 50 yards away to our right! We had walked almost directly beneath him on the way in. I scrambled like a crab to set up a Jake and Hen decoy 15 yards out (she uses my Remington 1100, 20 guage with 2.75 inch shells/#4's so I wanted the bird in close.)

We were shoulder to shoulder and I did some light purring on a box call to let him know we were there; "GOOOOOOBBBBBBBLLLLLLLLLLL". He was right on top of us literally. I yelped just a bit with my mouth call and soon he was on the ground coming our way. He entered the field a mere 20 yards away in full display and never broke strut as he approached the decoys. As soon as he spun with his fan blocking his head I whispered for her to raise the gun and get ready. I then whispered that I would cluck so he would raise his head and to shoot then. Instead of raising his head he stuck it straight out and gobbled. She shot just as he pulled his head back in. No problem though, he was floppin in a cloud of feathers. The sun was just showing on the horizon and we were snapping photos. She has shot two turkeys now, both on Opening Day in the first hour. Spoiled rotten.  :)

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Michael Stenstrom
We are still blessed in Maine with a fair number of birds who follow rule #3.  I just worry about shooting out that genetic line if we keep taking them all (kind of like those woodcock that used to fly straight up).  Looking forward to getting some warm spring like weather. Where are you located big kev?  My opening day is also 4/28.  Still so cold here I have heard very little gobbling.

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Brad Eden

We are still blessed in Maine with a fair number of birds who follow rule #3.  I just worry about shooting out that genetic line if we keep taking them all (kind of like those woodcock that used to fly straight up).  Looking forward to getting some warm spring like weather. Where are you located big kev?  My opening day is also 4/28.  Still so cold here I have heard very little gobbling.

I agree Mike. These Maine birds haven't been hunted hard and it often times shows.

You goin for your bird with a bow first-off? Let me know. I might be buying a 'Pop-up' blind before the season for a guy I might be guiding who wants to use a bow and I'd glad to get together. I haven't heard any gobbling but saw a couple strutting Toms in Swanville and my mother has had several in her yard in Belmont.

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oldbirddogman

Rick,

Thanks again for pointing out something I omitted. I didn't mean to imply that it's always the hunter that causes a turkey to remain on his roost longer that he should. We have all seen cases of bad weather that causes such behavior. And other things. Once I ran up on a gobbler that didn't fly down for several hours after normal fly-down time. When he did, he sailed quite a ways before landing. (Sort of combined #1 with #2.) I knew that he had not seen or heard me. As I approached where he had flown from, I discovered a black and tan hound laying curled up asleep nearly under the tree where the gobbler had roosted. I simply didn't mention other possibilities because they are factors not under the hunter's control, and I wanted to emphasize the point about being quiet and not trying to get too close.

The point about "a turkey's going to do what a turkey is going to do," is a valid point. I would never say otherwise. I will say that whatever he's going to do is one of the things I said he could do. I remember when I started hunting turkeys I didn't have the foggiest notion what the turkey was doing. I'm just trying to give those who haven't been turkey hunting long some understanding of what a gobbler MAY be doing.

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Rick Hall

Hope I didn't come off as criticising, just expanding.  What we've read so far has been a wonderful short course!

Keep it coming.

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