What Would You Have Done? Caught Between

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Ben Sobieck
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What Would You Have Done? Caught Between

Postby Ben Sobieck » June 3rd, 2009, 6:20 am

by Brian Lovett, editor

This past May, I hunkered in a fence line at fly-down time, waiting for a bird to gobble from a neighboring property.

Sure enough, the gobbler sounded off early, perhaps 150 yards from the property line. Trouble was, two other birds sounded off behind me, about 175 yards away, in some open timber across the town road. I'd hunted those turkeys before and was sick of them. No doubt, they'd fly down into a big hayfield to the west, and spend the day strutting for hens and being obstinate.

I tree-yelped a few times to the off-the-property turkey, and his response was luke-warm at best. However, the across-the-road birds seemed to hit the ground and fire up.

What would you have done?

A) Focus on the luke-warm gobbler 150 yards away from the property line.

B) Focus on the hot gobblers with a history of being obstinate.

Lovett's Decision: A

Having been whipped by those birds so often, I decided to stick with the gobbler 150 yards away from the property line. The sure thing clammed up and didn't show. And within five minutes, I glimpsed movement behind me as the two previously unkillable gobblers sprinted toward me in the field.

Facing the wrong direction and stuck in the open, I could only watch as one gobbler strutted at 75 steps and the other slowly walked into the woods to the south. I managed to slowly twist around to the right, and when the satellite bird popped out at 40-some yards, I shot, sending both gobblers sprinting back across the road.

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RE: What Would You Have Done? Caught Between

Postby wisturkeyhunter » June 3rd, 2009, 7:20 am

The answer is the same for all three of these you've posted. I would have to be there to make a decision but I can tell you I always go after the closest gobbling bird unless one is alot hotter and seems more killable than I go after him.
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RE: What Would You Have Done? Caught Between

Postby Bobbyparks » June 3rd, 2009, 10:26 am

Mr Lovett,

You do ask somewhat of a tricky question here. Normally I always go for the hottest most responsive bird even if he's further away. The "obstinate" factor would definitely complicate my mental processing abilty.

I have at times just stuck myself between  gobbling birds just to see what they would do before I committed hoping they'll move towards each other.

I apparently enjoy being abused so I'd probably have moved towards the hotter birds just because I'm not smart enough to know when to give up on a bird and maybe try to set up differently.

I will say sitting here at the computer and thinking about this is one thing, but when I'm in the woods I am more influenced by the "hunch factor". (Or I might have flipped a coin)


PS. I faced a similar situation 2 years ago in Texas. I was within 80 yards of a bird roosted on a power pole (yes, only in Texas, ) I could see him but he did not seem interested with anything I had to say. The whole time I was trying to make him interested I could hear bird 300 plus yards away just firing it up.

After he flew down, he completely ignored me and just seemed to be giving me the finger. Looking back, I think  he might have just been strutting around waiing on me to come to him, I couldn't see him well once he was on the ground, all I know is that he was not answering me very well.

I got up and walked about 100 yards toward the other birds and called to check their location. This apparently flipped the switch on the previously uninterested bird and he cut me off. I turned around and and he'd cut me off on almost every call I made. He was flopping on the ground within 10 minutes.  Just the fact that I moved away and called woke him up. 

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RE: What Would You Have Done? Caught Between

Postby wingbone » June 3rd, 2009, 6:35 pm

Caught between two or more gobblers is my favorite place in the world. I would have fired calls towards both directions and watched the fireworks.

Earlier this year I was walking a ridge, stopping every so often to give a few yelps. A gobbler responded some distance away. I moved as close as I dared and set up calling. The bird would not move but would not stop gobbling. Some hens started clucking and moved in on the bird. After an hour of no more responses, I moved back up on the ridge and tried to strike another bird.

I was at the exact same spot I started at when a bird gobbled down the opposite side of the ridge. I did not have permission to hunt on the neighboring property so I tried calling the bird in, he was a good 200 yards off.

This new bird was not as hot as the other bird and would answer my calls but was only luke warm at best. All of a sudden the original bird started back in, this brought the second bird up quite a few degrees. Pretty soon they where trying to outdo each other and both were closing in on my setup. Some how the second bird got past me with out my seeing him and the birds tore into each other. There was one hell of a racket then total silence. I gave some soft yelps because the birds had been close but the brush was very thick. The winner did not make another sound but crept right up to me and got a reward he was not expecting.

I have been lucky enough to be in the middle of two birds several times and it has always been a good experience for me.

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RE: What Would You Have Done? Caught Between

Postby shaman » June 4th, 2009, 2:07 am

I just had some thoughts on this scenario:

I'm a little shy about trying to call birds over from the neighbors' anymore.  I got shot at a couple of times in years past.  I stay well inside my property, especially during the weekends.  I also suspect a gobbler that's hot way outside my property line.  He can be responding to someone else's calls, someone I can't see or hear.  That doesn't mean I won't call to him, but if he flops down and doesn't come my way  I'm not going to fret.  I had one gob across the creek over on the neighbor's that honored my calls all season, but he never once crossed the creek.

Second, I guess I'm of a mind that a hunter's call is out there in the wind for any gobbler to hear, not just a particular target.  If I'm working a turkey, I should expect other company and be ready for it.  I'll say a good third of my shooting opportunities have been something other than the gobbler I had originally targeted. Of those, maybe half of them have come in on my back or some other screwy way.  Your shooting arc is usually less than 180 degrees, but your call is working 360 degrees.  Your attention should match the call and not the shotgun.

Third,  I work out of a lot of pre-arranged setups. I've usually gone out ahead of time and figured a good place to call from, where I'm not going to get blind-sided.   It still happens, but I am trying to manage it.  Of course, I've been on the same property for 8 seasons.  I know the familiar roosts, the likely travel routes, and the best setups for them by heart now.  This is where pre-season scouting and off-season scouting pay off.  

Lastly, this just points out just how subtle this whole sport is-- two gobs are not in the mood for days on end and then suddenly have a change of mind  the day the hunter decides to try something else-- been there, done that!  It also points out that gobblers are not necessarily getting tired of your calling or wise to your calling. Brian hit these birds before and couldn't get squat out of them. Then one day they wake up and decide he's the Hen Goddess.  Go figure.
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RE: What Would You Have Done? Caught Between

Postby Fan Club » June 4th, 2009, 4:10 am

A. Focus on the closer off-property gobbler.

This is an ideal scenario being located between gobbling toms. Even if you have been previously snubbed by the field turkeys, only honoring the gobbles of the off-property hot gobbler can make them jealous and apparently did in this case. Next time you are between gobbling toms, only call to one, ignore the other and see if that doesn't bust one or both of them loose.

> Your shooting arc is usually less than 180 degrees, but your call is working 360 degrees. Your attention should match the call and not the shotgun. <
Amen. Along with the aforementioned strategy comes this sage advice. The longer I hunt, the more it's proven that turkeys can approach from any direction, not just from where you are working a bird.

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RE: What Would You Have Done? Caught Between

Postby Cut N Run » June 4th, 2009, 8:53 am

First thing, I'm thrilled to have three gobblers sounding off nearby...it's already a good day!
 I too, would focus my attention to the off-property gobbler who may not have been hunted before and may be more likely to cooperate.
I try to throw calls toward neither of them in hopes they may come my way & I can alter the direction I'm calling accordingly. If I've positioned myself correctly, there is going to be sign from it being a place turkeys already pass through regularly. I want to sound like a ready hen they might miss out on if they don't react, but also sound a little indifferent at the same time. In other words, Throw several demanding cutts with a few quiet pleading yelps mixed in, then be quiet until I get a couple more gobble responses to let me know that either was coming.  Like Jeff said, To get them working against each other towards the hen's attention would most likely work in my favor.
I had a pair of ghost-like gobblers come in out of range last year that were tough to even get a look at. They had gobbled back many times on earlier hunts (of mine & my hunting buddies) but just wouldn't come close. They acted like each other's bodyguard or something and managed to stay out of sight of every hunter out there.  The extra set of eyes might have only compounded the difficulty factor.  I have had pairs of gobblers come in before, but these knew the game and weren't about play up close.  If a hen was interested, she'd best be showing herself in person (or is that in turkey?) to them.  The only time I saw those birds was on the last day of last year's season, when I went for broke by using a gobble call. I called on top them each time they'd gobble and got more reaction from that than any of us had heard in weeks. They came in on the fringe of range behind some brush and only offered a questionable shot. As badly as I wanted to spend my last tag, I had to let them pass. I felt lucky to have seen them, even though I didn't get a shot. That same day, I had some jakes roll by at 18 yards taunting me. They are the seed stock for our property & are safe.
Like the scenario in question, circumstances will dictate how it plays out. There are just too many variables in play. That pair might have stayed stubborn, while the single gobbler may have almost run you over.
The best thing is to get the chance to learn for the next time a similar situation occurrs.
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RE: What Would You Have Done? Caught Between

Postby Gobblerman » June 5th, 2009, 9:43 am

I, too, would have stuck with the off-property bird.  The only thing different I would have done was not miss the gobbler that showed up!  I never miss a bird Image....Yeah right!  Image

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