Decision Time: Tight Like That?

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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Decision Time: Tight Like That?

Postby Brian Lovett » December 1st, 2010, 5:39 am

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, then see how things actually turned out.

Tight Like That?

Yeah, I'll admit it: I hadn't scouted much.

I'd been on the road a lot, and the new turkey property had just recently fallen into my lap. I had no firsthand knowledge about the movements and habits of the neighborhood gobblers, so when opening day arrived, I just went hunting.

As you've probably guessed, I was off the mark.

At gobbling time, I listened from a wooded point that bordered a large cut cornfield. Even if the birds weren't roosted by the field, they'd likely go there eventually, and I could at least get a fix on their whereabouts.

And I did. Trouble was, the three screaming gobblers I heard didn't come to the field, and a large swamp stood between us. No matter. They were on an open pine ridge near the property line, so I could get tight with them the next morning.

But that's where the trouble started. I wasn't 100 percent sure where they'd roosted, and as I crept onto the pine ridge, I realized how open it was. Sure, it was dark, and yes, I was quiet, but it wouldn't take much to blow those longbeards off their evergreen roosts -- wherever those were -- and into the next county.

The obvious choice was to hang back, play it safe and let the morning unfold. I could stay by the base of the ridge where it met an open field, let the birds fly down and work them from there. However -- there's always a however, isn't there? -- this was the final morning I could hunt the place before heading off on another trip. An aggressive approach might be warranted.

And uncertainty is not an ally in the pre-dawn turkey woods.

What would you have done? Post your decision below.

Click here for Lovett's decision.

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RE: Decision Time: Tight Like That?

Postby Gobblerman » December 1st, 2010, 6:55 am

If it is really dark, I never worry about spooking turkeys off the roost.  I don't tromp around beating on pots and pans either, though.  There are lots of critters that move around the woods in the dark making assorted noises, so turkeys are used to hearing those....if they are even awake.  In this situation, I would make sure I arrive very full darkness,... and then quietly choose a set-up near where I think the birds are roosted. 
If for some reason, however, I do no not manage to get there until after it starting to get light, I would be more inclined to hold back a bit until the gobblers announced their presence, then move as closely as I felt I could without a chance of being seen.  My personal rule of thumb is that it is always better to call from a distance than it is to try to get close when the odds are that you will get caught in trying to do so.  A turkey that hears you from afar might come to you....eventually,.... but a turkey that sees you coming to him, certainly won't.

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RE: Decision Time: Tight Like That?

Postby Bobbyparks » December 1st, 2010, 8:50 am

I'm in total agreement with what Jim says here.
If I've got a day or two and I'm not confident where they'll be or if I can't get in EARLY enough I may hang back a bit

If it's the last day I'm going for broke and getting in early thirty. I do believe it's okay to make some noise as long as it's not "foreign" and it's early enough that they may forget they heard anything to begin with
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RE: Decision Time: Tight Like That?

Postby Turkeydude12 » December 2nd, 2010, 11:10 am

Well, one thing I have learned because of failure is that turkeys do not like noise of any kind. The less you move or make noise the better. I would pick a good area and wait. I say again they like there surroundings still, they wait to see and here whats around them. Also if the forest floor has a lot of dry leaves and sticks that go snap! You have to choose a quite path to them. Stealth!!


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RE: Decision Time: Tight Like That?

Postby WillowRidgeCalls » December 2nd, 2010, 4:30 pm

Being that your in there 030 and still dark, and not knowing just where the birds are roosted or that familiar with the property, I would try and be the first bird of the morning talking. Maybe a predawn gobble to see if one of the birds would answer back or if the hens might start some tree talking. At least then you'd know either to set up or make a move before it started getting too light. If you get no response at all, then I'd tend to go for broke and try moving in closer to where you thought they roosted, being it's the last chance you have to hunt this property.

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RE: Decision Time: Tight Like That?

Postby kenturkey89 » December 2nd, 2010, 6:09 pm

I agree with WillowRidge,

I would probably throw in a little hoot music or a few early tree yelps to see if any of the birds are willing to fire up. If one does I'd make a move as quickly and quietly as possible to try and set up before it gets too light out. If you had another day or two left I can see picking a good feeding area or strut zone to set up for a little late morning action. Because it's your last morning to hunt, if nothing responds I would at least move in the direction and set up in the general vicinity of where you believe those birds to be.

Worst cast scenario you bump a bird or two off the roost, but there's always more birds out there. Best cast scenario you put yourself on top of a bird and make it back to camp for breakfast. Being that it's the last morning of the hunt, I'd take my chances!!!

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RE: Decision Time: Tight Like That?

Postby firelt72 » December 7th, 2010, 10:55 am

There is always a but....In the case you have described I would more than likely have moved a few yards closer and then set up. I am all for throwing a hoot or two, but I have bumped birds in the dark who didn't respond to my owl call. The odds are if you are between them and the field they will move your way. Aggressiveness is good but blind aggressiveness is a sure way to go home without a passenger.  
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