What Would You Have Done? He's Waiting

Ask questions of and offer advice to fellow turkey hunters
User avatar
Ben Sobieck
 
Posts: 185
Joined: October 30th, 2008, 9:34 am

What Would You Have Done? He's Waiting

Postby Ben Sobieck » June 3rd, 2009, 6:09 am

by Brian Lovett Editor

Jeff Budz and I stood atop a South Dakota ridge, watching a Merriam's gobble his wattles off 500 yards across a wooded canyon.

"Brian, go kill that turkey," he said.

So off I went.

The bird was gobbling regularly, so it was no problem reaching the edge of the timber on the opposite face. But as I peeked out through the pines, I couldn't see the gobbler. And of course, he'd stopped gobbling.

The turkey had been near a small patch of trees about 75 yards away, atop the crest of the hill. He probably hadn't strayed too far. If I could reach the trees, I thought, I'd be able to locate the bird and perhaps call him in. However, because I wasn't familiar with the terrain, my odds of bumping the bird seemed better than average.

On the other hand, the gobbler had been pretty hot, so I might be able to call him down to the timber at the valley's edge.

What would you have done?

A) Head toward the small patch of trees 75 yards away.

B) Try to call the gobbler down to the timber at the valley's edge.


Lovett's Decision: A

I decided to get aggressive, and started belly-crawling to the trees atop the hill. When I reached them, I slowly lifted my head and looked around. Sure enough, there was the gobbler's fan, perhaps 70 yards away, just over another small rise. I readied my shotgun and yelped softly on a mouth call.

Almost instantly, the bird slicked his feathers, turned toward me and started walking in. When he got to 35 yards, I clucked, he stopped, and I dropped him.

User avatar
Bobbyparks
 
Posts: 865
Joined: May 24th, 2009, 4:45 am

RE: What Would You Have Done? He's Waiting

Postby Bobbyparks » June 3rd, 2009, 10:44 am

It seems to me that either approach would have had a chance to work here. Merriams are often willing to come along ways quickly especially if the bird is hot and alone.
 
I've had Merriams that were fairly hot from a distance get really hot when I closed in on em and called simialr to what you're saying. 

When I'm hunting there's the instinct / hunch factorand it would have depended on just how I felt about the terrain.

I have had good luck charging the next hill top but I always feel like I'm running nekid when I take off hoping that I'm not going to blow the whole deal.

I would have been more likely to charge the ridge if I had reason to think he was far enough beyond the crest preferrably after hearing him gobble to have comitted.

It's hard for me to say for sure on this one.

Bobby

wingbone
 
Posts: 101
Joined: April 28th, 2009, 2:57 am

RE: What Would You Have Done? He's Waiting

Postby wingbone » June 3rd, 2009, 5:38 pm

I would have to say that if I was alone, as Mr. Lovett was, I would get aggressive and try to close the distance. I have had better luck over the years making the distance to the bird as short and easy as posable. Sometimes I get busted but I think the risk is worth it. The further a gobbler has to travel the more of a chance a hen will intercept him. Especially when he is hot and gobbling at everything

Now if I am hunting with a guest, most likely I would stay put and try to bring the bird closer. Twice as much noise and twice as large of an object to be caught out in the open.

User avatar
Fan Club
 
Posts: 1368
Joined: April 13th, 2008, 5:24 am
Location: Calhoun County, Michigan

RE: What Would You Have Done? He's Waiting

Postby Fan Club » June 4th, 2009, 4:25 am

A. Head to the patch of trees.
 
This one is closely related to the strategy involved for the "Sprinter." Because I had a last visual marker on the tom at the patch of trees, that's where I would attempt to go to gain as much ground as possible. Take your time and stay low, constantly looking.
 
With the "Sprinter" there was no visual marker, only gobbling and the bird was approaching so the choice would be the opposite.
"The joy of living is his, who has the heart to demand it." Teddy Roosevelt

User avatar
Gobblerman
 
Posts: 927
Joined: April 8th, 2008, 12:47 pm

RE: What Would You Have Done? He's Waiting

Postby Gobblerman » June 4th, 2009, 5:43 am

Of course, this situation really depends on a lot of factors that we can only envision mentally from the scenario presented.  If my interpretation of the situation was like Brian's, in which I was thinking that "my odds of bumping this gobbler are good" (paraphrased), and if I think there is little chance of somebody else spoiling the encounter for me, then my first inclination is to try to get the gobbler to let me know where he is before I do anything more.
 
I believe my intial tactic would have been to call from where I was,...first some soft stuff, hoping for a gobble, and then some aggressive stuff.  If I got no response either way, I would most likely park my behind for a while and hope that he either gobbled on his own or came into view. 
 
At some point, though, assuming he didn't sound off, I would have employed the same tactic Brian ended up taking....moving in on the bird.  Unfortunately, my tactic probably would not have worked, and here's why I think that:
 
It is quite common for Merriams gobblers, especially older age class birds, to gobble at long-distance calling and then shut up when you start closing in on them.  Often, this clamming up is a result of one of three things, I believe.  They 1) think that the hen is coming to them and feel no further need to call (my experience is that this is unlikely with a younger gobbler, and especially one that has no hens with him), 2) they have hens with them, and they have somehow informed him that he is to shut the heck up, or 3) this gobbler has been "rode in this rodeo before" and suspects that something is amiss.   
 
The fact that this bird ended up being by himself immediately throws him into class #3 for me.  What I suspect would have happened in my choice of tactics is that the bird would have heard my calling from below, and either moved away from the calling or come to the crest of the hill, seen there was no hen there, got suspicious, and moved off. 
 
Of course, Brian's story could just as easily ended up with him bumping the gobbler as he approached the crest, and my story could have ended with the gobbler coming right over the crest and marching right down the hill to me.  The fact is, "you rolls the dice, and you takes your chances"!
 
Jim
 
 

User avatar
Bobbyparks
 
Posts: 865
Joined: May 24th, 2009, 4:45 am

RE: What Would You Have Done? He's Waiting

Postby Bobbyparks » June 4th, 2009, 10:00 am

As a followup to my first response I'd add this.

Counting a friends, Mary's, my dads, and mine, I've been involved in 17 Merriams kills in the past 6 years. All have been high praire birds and most involved some type of puirsuits. Some have been flat out cross country treks. Merriams like to go places when they get out of a tree.

The bird I mentioned recently regarding Mary's first kill was a quick game of leap frog in which we moved a couple of times on a group of birds and lastly up over a rise , crawled up and called the birds back in for  a shot. We had actually gotten  within a hundred yards after the first advance and called a gobbler away from the group. He came within range but too far over for Mary to swing around. We had to let him go back to the group. the second previously mentioned effort paid off.

Looking back I realize that it's mostly been the mutiple birds that I've actually had to make the last ditch aggressive move on similar to whats mentioned in the original thread, to get withing shooting range. This is largely due to they mostly keep gobbling and walking away. Sometimes I could get one to drop off and come back buy sometimes I'd get up on the whole group and take a bird.

In the instances where I caught up with an got within a reasonably close to a  single bird , he would turn around or angle back over pretty easily and quickly. I call more to them than Easterns which has worked well for me.

My point is now that I've thought about this and based on some pretty successful hunts, I'd have more than likely have tried to first call the subject bird back if he was alone before I'd have made the charging crawl up the rise. If I knew he was with some compadres, it would have been the "Charge of the Light Brigade" all over again

I will say that what Mr Lovett did takes nerve and skill and he's obviously made out of the right stuff. Attempting this is unbelievably exciting and frightening at the same time. You know it's a now or never situation and you're Taking a calcualted risk.

. The first time I did it I had to run across 70 yards of open space (because my ditch had run out ) and then get down and duck walk and then crawl. I peaked up and just as I saw the fan the gobbler picked his head up. I eased back down, pulled the gun to my shoudler, and raised up again and fired on him. As I jumped up and ran towards the bird I realized there was another gobbler in full strutt facing away from me at 35 yards that somehow didn't have a clue I was there. Before I knew what I was happening I busted him too. I normally don't shoot more than one bird out of a group but this was early on and I was more challenged, and I wanted Merriams fans.

The attached photos are birds from this season that required the type of approach we're discussing. Mary's was quick and easy compared to my dad's who required quite an effort. The bird he's with was taken up on a ridge after a number of uphill assaults.

It didn't help matters that a coyote came onto the scene and flushed the gobbler into a tree the first time we thought we had him where we wanted him.

PS: I like you guys. You make me think. 

Image

Image
Image

Image

User avatar
Gobblerman
 
Posts: 927
Joined: April 8th, 2008, 12:47 pm

RE: What Would You Have Done? He's Waiting

Postby Gobblerman » June 4th, 2009, 11:11 am

Great comments and pictures, Bobby!
 
...And PS...you're alright, too....we'll let you stick around!  Image
 
Jim


Return to Strategies

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests