Decision Time: Game of Inches

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: Game of Inches

Postby Brian Lovett » November 16th, 2010, 9:45 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.

Game of Inches

Every year, I experience a number of turkey hunts that go precisely as planned.

Hey, one or two are numbers, right?

OK, let's face it; usually, even successful turkey hunts take perilous twists and turns that test our mettle and make us think on the run.

Three years ago, a friend and I drove past a Missouri pasture and saw two strutters with some hens on the hillside. We parked the truck and then sneaked along a wood line, looking and listening for the birds. When we yelped, a gobbler responded just 70 yards away, so we quickly set up and prepared for a wham-bam hunt.

However, the next gobble was farther, and subsequent ones were downright distant. We crept to the crest and peered over. Nothing. There was another rise about 80 yards away, and we figured the birds must have dropped over that. It was risky, but we decided to crawl to the hilltop and take a peek.

Soon, we reached the top, and I crawled ahead to get a visual on the birds. Sure enough, I peered through the grass to see two strutters, five hens and a trailing gobbler near a small garbage dump. However, the birds were 80 yards distant, and there was nothing but pasture and air between us.

I hunkered down, and my friend yelped on a mouth call. Immediately, the gobblers raised their heads and looked. And just as quickly, the hens began to walk away. No wonder the flock had moved away from us initially. The hens must have been in peak breeding mode, and they weren't about to share the gobblers with some intrusive loud-mouthed hussy.

As my friend yelped and cutt, one gobbler strutted, but the other actually came about five yards closer. However, the hens continued to depart, and there was no doubt the longbeards would eventually follow.

I had to make a quick, daring move toward the birds or drop back, sneak around the hill and hope we could intercept the flock again. Being patient and circling around seemed like the wise choice, but it held no guarantees. The birds might stick to the open pasture, which would let us keep tabs on them, but that would also restrict our movements. The flock could also slip into the timber to their left, which would quickly lead them off the property.

And with Missouri's 1 p.m. closing time looming, I had to decide quickly.

What would you have done? Post your decision below.

Click here for Lovett's decision.

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RE: Decision Time: Game of Inches

Postby WillowRidgeCalls » November 16th, 2010, 3:36 pm

I'd be on my horse getting around in front of them. If those hens aren't being friendly, then switch your calling from talking to the Toms to talking to the hens, get nasty and go after them with some old hen, deep yelps, cutts, and cackles, aggressive purrs. If you can't get those hens excited, this hunt might be a wash?

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RE: Decision Time: Game of Inches

Postby BigBuckeye » November 17th, 2010, 5:00 am

Depends Brian, you never said whether or not you had permission to be in that field [:D]
I'm with Scott, try to get in front of them and change the calling style if they weren't going to mosey past your intercept point.
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RE: Decision Time: Game of Inches

Postby handcannon » November 19th, 2010, 12:42 pm

If I had the ability to get in front of them without getting busted, I would try that first. If it was not accessable, I'd try some aggressive calling and if necessary, I would throw in some fighting purrs. That's usually my last resort though.

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RE: Decision Time: Game of Inches

Postby Bobbyparks » November 20th, 2010, 11:12 am

Like someone said before , it's hard to know what you'd do unless you're there... but these situations make you think

Just to be different and because you said "trailing gobbler", "moved back" 5 yards, and the hens were repelling the group from your calls, I'd at least make a quick attempt on the straggler. There's a reason he's lagging behind and if a new hen just showed up and the other gobblers are leaving, maybe he'll feel like it's his lucky day. If he showed signs of being willing to play I'd stay with him... if not I'd high tail it back and around the hill and hope I could get close enough before the hens took em away again.

Edited to correct Jethro Bodine grammer / mispells
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RE: Decision Time: Game of Inches

Postby Gobblerman » November 22nd, 2010, 5:12 am

Yeah,....what Bobby said.
Based on the information given, and assuming there was no way to slither closer without being seen, this is perhaps a time for experimentation and innovation, but with a clear awareness of safety issues.  First order of business would be another cutt/yelp sequence from my buddy so I could see what the gobblers reaction is again.  If he comes closer, then I'm sticking with that game until he either is in range or turns back. 
But, in the meantime, if I can do so without the risk of being seen,....or shot by some unseen other hunter....I would pull out my rarely-used decoy from my vest or pack and carefully raise it up so that the gobblers could actually make eye contact with the hen they are hearing.  This situation would also allow me to give the decoy some convincing life-like motion, and might just pull one or both of the birds in that last few yards needed. 
Also, though I've never carried a gobbler fan, I have heard that they can be deadly in these situations, and so, once again considering all safety issues involved, if one of those happened to be available, I might try raising a fan so that the gobblers could see that.  As I said, these situations are perfect times for experimentation and innovation.  After all, if these approaches don't work, it is just another in a long line of gobblers that have escaped me.....I'm used to it.... 
If all else fails, I would fall back to the end-around plan and try to circle and get in front of the birds.

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