Decision Time: Stand

In this interactive feature, Editor Brian Lovett shares a scenario from his 20+ years of turkey hunting, asking "What would you do?"
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Brian Lovett
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Decision Time: Stand

Postby Brian Lovett » September 18th, 2012, 3:08 pm

In "Decision Time," Editor Brian Lovett will share a scenario from his 20-plus years hunting turkeys. Each hinges on a critical decision. Post what choice you would have made, and then see how things actually turned out.


I'd always envisioned a specific hunt at the old ridge place. I'd slip to the top, locate a bird, move swiftly and silently into position, and then yelp him right to the gun barrel. And lo and behold, that was happening one glorious May morning. If you Googled "perfect turkey hunt," the search engine would link you to live footage of the dream I was living.

The bird hadn't been close, but he'd responded fairly well, and I'd learned that I could get him to move by shutting up for several minutes. And after about 40 minutes of stop-and-go calling, the turkey in my perfect hunt was almost perfect, standing just 20 steps away near the top of the ridge.

Notice I said "almost perfect." Yes, he was within ultra-easy range — almost too close. No doubt, he was searching hard for that little hen he'd heard. But he'd walked right into a low dip in the ridge line, and I couldn't see him — not even the top of his head. Further, he stopped there because he could see the field next to the ridge.

Crap. I knew he wouldn't stay there forever, so I had to make a tactical choice. If I stood up, I'd surely be able to see the turkey and get a shot at him. However, standing would bring an immediate end to the hunt, and if the bird spotted me before I got my bead on him, I might not get a good shot. If I stayed put and kept quiet, the turkey might continue searching for the hen and walk the final few steps out of the hole and down my gun barrel. He'd already come a long way, after all.

Stand or fall? Stand and fall? Oh boy ... .

What would you have done? Post your decision below.

Click here for Lovett's decision.

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Re: Decision Time: Stand

Postby WillowRidgeCalls » September 19th, 2012, 6:54 pm

I've been in that situation before, and sometimes it worked and sometimes not. I would deffinatly stay put in your setup, but offer him a couple of choices. He knows there is a hen there somewhere, that he came for. I'd either stay quiet and do a little leaf scratching so he can hear that hen moving but in that hollow he can't see her, so he'd have to come out of it to find her, or I'd hit him with a gobble and make him come out of it to defend his prize. He's came a long ways for that hen, so make him make the desission for you.

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Re: Decision Time: Stand

Postby ticklishtompro » September 19th, 2012, 10:30 pm

I would stay put and throw out a few soft purrs with the leave scratching. It doesn't work every time, but most of the time!
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Re: Decision Time: Stand

Postby Gobblerman » September 20th, 2012, 8:01 am

Certainly no need to panic here. If the bird has come to within twenty yards without you being able to see the approach, then there is a good likelyhood that he will come out where you can see him with a minimal amount of persuasion,...or perhaps without any persuasion at all. The only thing that might implode this hunt is making some sort of bonehead move. Leaf scratching would be high on my list of tactics at this point, as well as some soft clucks and purring. At twenty yards, eliciting any sort of loud aggressive calling would be taking an unneeded chance at spooking this gobbler. It might well work, but why take the chance? Patience would indeed be a virtue here.

Sure, you might be able to stand up and kill this bird,...and in fact, you probably should be able to if he could not duck out of sight,..or fly off, the time you arose, steadied yourself, and shouldered your gun. That would be a last resort in this situation, though,...unless all else has failed,...and you are a long ways from "all else failing" at this juncture of the encounter.

Unless Murphys' Law again raised its ugly head in this hunt, this bird was surely converted to turkey nuggets.

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Re: Decision Time: Stand

Postby Cut N Run » September 20th, 2012, 10:40 am

Yeah, all I'm doing is keeping the gun ready and scratching leaves quietly. Too much activity, calling, or movement could bust him away from you right quick and just earn you a bad memory. Having a gobbler at 20 yards is mighty close by to get too bold on him. I had one come up on the other side of a downed tree and hang up at about 28 yards for what seemed like an eternity. He managed to keep his head behind limbs big enough to catch too much shot, so I held out. Eventually, he got tired of waiting on a hen that was all talk and no show. One cluck once he got in the clear and he wore my tag home.

You know that gobbler is going to move sooner or later, so keep your patience going and wait him out.

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