Decision Time: Running Big

In this interactive feature, Editor Brian Lovett shares a scenario from his 20+ years of turkey hunting, asking "What would you do?"
User avatar
Brian Lovett
Posts: 344
Joined: December 19th, 2008, 10:32 am

Decision Time: Running Big

Postby Brian Lovett » November 23rd, 2010, 9:25 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.

Running Big

If I had been born a bird dog, I'd probably "run big," as trainers say. That is, I'd stretch my legs and cover lots of ground like a shorthair instead of using a plodding, methodical gait like a setter.

The fact I didn't come into the world as a shorthair hasn't stopped me from wanting to burn boot leather while hunting. Nope, I only break out of that mold via occasional bouts of common sense.

Three years ago, I crested a small hill and stepped onto the prettiest hardwood knob in central Wisconsin.

"You cannot tell me there won't be a turkey strutting here today," I said to myself.

It was that ideal. The mayapple-strewn knob rolled down to a swamp in the east and a large hayfield to the north. To the west and south, a large timbered finger ridges stretched for a half-mile. I had to hunt there.

The first morning, nothing gobbled within a half-mile, but I slipped into the honey hole and set up anyway. A silent bird slipped in from behind and busted me.

The next day, I started at another farm but returned to the honey hole by 8 a.m. I struck two gobblers on the knob, sat down and prepared for the kill. However, the birds took a different course, walking straight north down a hill, through thick brush and into the hayfield, where one gobbled his wattles off for a half-hour and eventually wandered off.

While examining the gobbler's travel route, I discovered a 25-yard-wide opening in a brushy fence line where the bird had entered the field. Better, a faint deer trail led directly from the opening to the hardwood knob. The next morning, I'd set up at the opening and wait for that rat to come into the alfalfa field.

As dawn broke the next day, two birds gobbled about 100 yards south of the knob. I started to call softly and vowed to be patient with a solid setup.

But by 8 a.m., the birds hadn't showed, and they weren't gobbling. Should I go to the knob? To complicate matters, I'd heard another bird earlier that morning gobbling just off the property. I was sure the ridge birds were in the area, but I just didn't know where. Somehow, a swift walk to another -- albeit distant -- turkey seemed awfully inviting.

What would you have done? Post your decision below.

Click here for Lovett's decision.

Click here to learn about free shipping on all F+W Media products!

User avatar
Cut N Run
Posts: 2194
Joined: April 12th, 2008, 2:32 pm
Location: central North Carolina

RE: Decision Time: Running Big

Postby Cut N Run » November 29th, 2010, 9:18 am

Eight O'clock is still pretty early in the day. I would be inclined to sit tight and keep an eye on that deer trail & the gap in the fence. You know that turkeys already like to use the place. Even though you were busted nearby, you aren't hunting in that exact location again today. Your hunting instincts told you it was a pretty place with turkeys all around it. Trust your instinct and you will likely be rewarded if you are patient. If nothing comes in, you haven't pressured the birds and they will show again in the future. Since one already came in silent, I'd be inclined to float a cutt out there every 45-60 minutes or so, stay alert, be ready to tote one out by the feet. Forget about the bird gobbling on another property...unless he's getting closer. Sometimes staying put can be one of the hardest things to do, but it can also be rewarding.

Luck Counts, good or bad

User avatar
Posts: 938
Joined: April 8th, 2008, 12:47 pm

RE: Decision Time: Running Big

Postby Gobblerman » November 29th, 2010, 12:09 pm

To me, this dilemma has nothing to do about killing a turkey, but has everything to do about how I personally want to kill a turkey if I am going to do so.  I am, by my nature, not a "sit and wait-er".  I prefer to be a "run and gun-er".  It is more satisfying to me when I kill a gobbler that responds to my calling as I am moving along through the woods, and then comes in to my calls.  My "nature", however, is a function of my good fortune of having grown up hunting where I have almost limitless amounts of public land in which to hunt, and learning that if there is not a gobbler to be killed on this ridge, there is probably one on the next. 
When a hunter sits in a spot that turkeys go through or come to regularly, with or without calling, there is no assurance that any bird taken in that spot was killed by anything other than the mere coincidence of the bird and hunter being in that spot at the same time.  That is not a bad thing, and my comments are not meant as any indictment against those that kill their birds that way, and especially those that have no choice to hunt turkeys in that fashion to have any chance of success.  Sometimes the skill of figuring out where to be to have success is more important than anything else, including calling. The fact of the matter is that I just feel more satisfaction in killing a gobbler that I am certain came because I fooled him with my calling.   
Soooo, getting back to the question at hand,....that is, would I stay or would I go?....all things being equal, I would most likely "go" because that is how I like to hunt.  Do I think that would be the best way of killing a gobbler in the situation described?  Not really, it's just that I, personally, would enjoy doing it more that way.

User avatar
Posts: 3633
Joined: May 25th, 2009, 4:26 pm
Location: Reeseville Wisconsin

RE: Decision Time: Running Big

Postby WillowRidgeCalls » November 29th, 2010, 12:16 pm

I agree with Jim on this one. 8:00 is still early enough to stay put. If it was closer to noon then I may be intent to head to the top of the timbered west ridge, if I hadn't heard those two birds since the early morn.

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

RE: Decision Time: Running Big

Postby Bobbyparks » November 29th, 2010, 12:31 pm

The key factors I picked up here are: You had an encounter with a silent bird and later 2 gobbling birds in the same area on 2 consecutive days.
You also mentioned the 2 gobblers got quiet when you were comtimplating.

Because you had a hunch it was a good spot worth putting time in when you first saw it, because of the 2 encounters with birds, because you scouted and pinpointed a possible travel route, because it's still early, and because the birds got quiet and may not gobble even if you moved, I'd dig in and give it a chance to work. If they're not gobbling and you're moving you might bump em.

If I'm another state or two west I'd likely do what Mr Jim said because the western birds seem to require "you" to cover ground where sometimes here or with Easterns, it's more of a mixed approach for me.

Final answer: Dig in, call perodically, and give em a little while to show up... if that didn't work, I'd whistle for Trigger, get back in the saddle and chase em down
Make Every Hunt a Blast With ACME Hunting Systems

Return to Decision Time

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest