Growing up I have always had a fascination with spring gobblers. Believe it or not, I actually taught myself everything I know about turkey hunting. I quickly learned that turkey hunting requires patience, the ability to adapt skills quickly, the ability to walk/go after that bird gobbling two ridges over and stealth.
As hunters, when we are hunting spring gobblers we are actually doing the opposite of how nature works in the turkey world. By this I mean, during spring gobbler (a turkey’s form of rut) the gobbler gobbles to the sound of a ready hen. In the turkey world when the gobbler gobbles he is letting the hen that is looking to be bred know of his location and she is supposed to come to him.
This is where as hunters we need to perfect our skills. 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 had a gobbler on fire while he is on the roost and then as soon as daylight hits and he flies down he shuts up. This can happen for a variety of reasons but the most common is because he has flown down and got 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.
Another frustrating situation we run into as turkey hunters is that bird who just seems to hang up. Each situation is different; however here are a few things I try and do. First thing I do is shut up (curiosity will usually get to 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 that tom think there is another player on his turf.
If that didn’t work, here is where 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. Attempt to get ahead of him and wait him out or even make him think a hotter hen heard him and is coming to him 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 the other way. 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.
Every situation differs, but I hope this little blog helps you bring in that stubborn longbeard!
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