What Would You Have Done? The Sprinter

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Ben Sobieck
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What Would You Have Done? The Sprinter

Postby Ben Sobieck » June 3rd, 2009, 6:01 am

by Brian Lovett, editor

One mid-May morning in Wisconsin, I fired up a distant gobbler and moved to the tip of a wooded point to work him. Within seconds, I glimpsed him trotting over the rise, apparently coming to my calling. It was perfect.

Or so it seemed. Instead of waltzing in and graciously accepting a load of No. 6s to the head, the bird descended into the deepest hollow in central Wisconsin and then stood 100 yards away -- straight downhill -- and gobbled for a half-hour.

What the heck? The longbeard had charged toward my yelping, sat still for 30 minutes and then high-tailed it out of town. I didn't get it.

The decision was plain enough. I could follow the go-away turkey or stay at my setup for a while, hoping the bird might return to investigate the hot hen he'd heard.

What would you have done?

A) Follow the go-away turkey

B) Sit still and hope the gobbler returns

Lovett's Decision: B

I went with option B and stuck around. After 40 minutes of sitting and calling, I'd had enough and was ready to leave. That's when I saw a turkey in the distance. It was a hen, and she was walking right at me. Within seconds, she had passed a few feet from my tree, clucking the entire way.

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I glimpsed two strutters dogging the hen. I had to twist my body far to the right, but I managed to get on the trailing bird just as he was about to top the ridge. The shot punctuated a great but odd hunt.

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RE: What Would You Have Done? The Sprinter

Postby Bobbyparks » June 3rd, 2009, 11:08 am

I've had better luck following "go away Merriams " than "go away Easterns". I've literally followed Merriams until they would turn around and come straight back down their own trail..
I'd have likely attempted a pursuit on the bird you mention only if he was gobbling enough to keep track of and I thought I could manuver around on him.
Alot would have depended on what I knew about the area and the bird population. I have hunted where birds left me off the roost and would come back later in the morning. I'd stay tight partly because I had experine of this happening and because it was good turkey territory where I knew other birds  might cruise thru and respond to my calling later in the morning.
I guess I'm like a politican here in that I can't just give a good yes or no answer.
I mostly don't know what I'll do until I do it.

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RE: What Would You Have Done? The Sprinter

Postby wingbone » June 3rd, 2009, 5:59 pm

I would follow the bird or better yet, try to get around it and get into the area he just traveled through. IME if a turkey was in a mad rush to come in, then held up, something did not fit into his comfort zone. Something created a block maybe a stream, fence or what ever is on the turkey's pet peave list for the day. A lot of times if you move to the area he already traveled through, area where he was comfortable, he will come right in.

I think another reason this works is because it more closely represents the natural order of the hen approaching the gobbler. He is expecting the hen to come in to him, your moving replicates this. When you hear hens in the woods they are always moving. We can place more realism in our calling by creating some movement even if it is just turning our heads and calling to a different direction.

But that is me, you stayed and got a bird anyway.

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RE: What Would You Have Done? The Sprinter

Postby shaman » June 4th, 2009, 2:27 am

More and more now, my style is changing to be less focused on hunting any one gobbler and focusing on just putting out a quality scenario that any bird can buy into.  This is a complete reversal from where I was 5 years ago, when I would pursue the same bird all through season.  To me, the reason for your success with B was that you were sitting still and opened yourself up to the other possibilities out there.

I don't mean that I just sit somewhere and blind-call until something comes in.  What I mean is that I set up with the intention of calling as a hen or group of hens first, and as a suitor to a particular gobbler second. In your other scenario, Turkey A didn't pay you any mind, but gobbler pair B did. 

Go-away turkeys usually go away for a reason-- maybe you tipped your hand, maybe some hens came in, maybe . . . a lot of things.  Who knows.  Tomorrow he may have dreamed of you all night and be waiting at the foot of your cot.   The next guy will be very successful with option A, but I know my style is better suited for B.  

I'm just going to throw this out:  Is it possible gobblers are shy like teenage guys?  They sit there and burn, watching the girls in class, but when one comes up and says "Hi!" they get scared?  
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RE: What Would You Have Done? The Sprinter

Postby Fan Club » June 4th, 2009, 3:47 am

> I've had better luck following "go away Merriams " than "go away Easterns". <

I agree with that 100%. I think Merriams tend to cover greater distances in their daily travels and can be followed in the more open areas of the west. I followed the henned up Merriams double pictured for nearly three hours before sealing the deal in South Dakota.

For me deciding to follow a "go away" bird has a direct correlation to the terrain. If you can see where the bird was headed or last was, you have a much greater opportunity to close that distance and give the impression you are a following hen. If you can only hear the bird as a marker, there is a much greater chance that you will bump him as he may have just gone silent.

In this case I would have gone with B and waited to see if the bird would get curious and come looking. Your calling and the tom's gobbling could always draw in other turkeys as Shaman noted.

"The joy of living is his, who has the heart to demand it." Teddy Roosevelt

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RE: What Would You Have Done? The Sprinter

Postby Cut N Run » June 4th, 2009, 7:52 am

I have limited experience on open country birds & would more prone to stay put in hopes that the bird's curiosity would get the better of him, rather than follow and potentially bump him.  I do not have vast expanses of territory we can legally hunt and am limited to moving within those boundaries anytime I hunt. I wish I knew different, but I don't.
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RE: What Would You Have Done? The Sprinter

Postby Gobblerman » June 5th, 2009, 10:03 am

Forgive me Brian (and Ben), but the situation described falls squarely into the category of "blind luck". Image  Of course, my motto in most endeavors is that I would rather be lucky than good anyday, but I have found that, even though I am hoping like heck it will come along, you just can't rely on luck to end up eating turkey fricassee very often. 
Hence, I would probably have followed the initial gobbler, got some good exercise, stumbled back to my vehicle at some point, and headed back to camp for a can of pork 'n beans!  Image

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RE: What Would You Have Done? The Sprinter

Postby onpoint » June 8th, 2009, 9:13 am

If the terrain and my knowledge of it permitted, I'd have to try and get in front of him.[8|]
"Chasin' gobblers has a lot in common with dealing with a wife, 'bout the time ya' think ya' got 'em figured out, they change the rules!!!"

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RE: What Would You Have Done? The Sprinter

Postby JW » July 5th, 2009, 5:47 pm

Like a few others here, it depends on where I was. If I am on my home turf where I know the terrain well, I would go after it. What I would really try to achieve is to work around it and try to cut him off or call him from a different angle. This has worked for me in my neck of the woods where it is mostly ridge and valley. With all the intersecting ridges, sometimes you can move on a bird that is going away and call him back.
On the other hand, if I know there is a good bird population in the area, I might stay put and hope to strike up another one.
So I guess I can't answer "A" or "B" until I'm in that moment facing that situation.

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RE: What Would You Have Done? The Sprinter

Postby thunderchicken » July 6th, 2009, 4:05 am

I agree on on alot of points made on this post.
Personally, I like to evaluate the total set up. If I am hunting right off the roost I would do more listening and dissecting the situation than anything else. I have shot birds off the roost that play by the rules, but most birds I have shot have been later up in the morning.
For example, I shot my 2nd gobbler in VT in 2009 at 11:30 am. I set up on this hill top that birds were gobbling on opening weekend. Sure enough there were 2 gobblers sounding off on a peice of property I could not hunt. I sat listening to that gobbler on roost for about an hour, then another 2 hours at the bottom of the ridge I was on. I decided to pick up and leave him be til later that morning. At 10:30 I decided to go after him. I drove the road that parelled that ridge to see where I could enter the woods without trespassing on the property thet bird was on. I found a good access point that bordered the private property. I headed into the woods till I found the foot of that ridge. I figured this is where that bird was earlier. I found a good set up along an old tote road and made a call and long story short, that bird never stopped gobbling til I jelly headed him at 20 yards!
I shot my bird in NH this spring by just sitting in a dusting area in a log landing at 6:15 am! Although I heard 5 or 6 gobblers across the road from where I was set up I knew there were birds on my side because I have hunted there in the past and not to mention saw 2 big strutters behind a small farm 2 days before. Granted, I didnt have to sit for a 3 hours, but I shot that bird without him making 1 gobble!
The VT bird might have worked his way back up that ridge, but I decided to go after him. Yes, I could have gone after the gobblers on the opposite side of the road in NH, but I was certain the birds were in the area.
I guess my choice would depend on the situation, If I am below the bird, I might try to get above him if he is stuck in that spot like glue! That is if the terrain allows me to do so!
Lastly, if I know a gobbler has hens and wont budge, I might sit tight and see if he loses his hens as the morning goes on, especially if I am in an area where the hens like to hang out!
Remember that gobbler or any gobbler in the area will remember where he heard that hot hen earlier in the morningand when his ladies go to nest, he will sometimes head to that spot!
Of course I only speak from my past experiences in the spring turkey woods! Either way, it is alot of fun trying to outsmart the big boys!
Impatience is hard to ignore, but patience puts the bird in the truck!

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