Decision Time: Showdown at Rio Ridge

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: Showdown at Rio Ridge

Postby Brian Lovett » October 18th, 2010, 5:36 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.

Showdown at Rio Ridge

Failure is a frequent guest in the turkey woods, and veteran hunters agree it's just part of the game. But it seems like we subconsciously sabotage ourselves from time to time. Or maybe, like the man said, we try to do our best, but we cannot.

It was a "hallelujah morning" in southern Texas. After four days of uncharacteristically tough hunting, a friend and I had wiggled directly below 20-some hard-gobbling Rios perched in three big oaks above a dry creek bed. And as the coyotes yipped and the sun tried to peek above the horizon, the longbeards hammered incessantly.

Reality check. We were across the creek bed from the turkeys and couldn't sneak any closer. Further, based on the terrain, it seemed likely that the birds would pitch down away from us to a small timbered ridge that led to an enormous open pasture. Still, I figured if we could get the birds to respond on the ground, we could work around the creek and get on the ridge with them after sunrise.

Sure enough, after a couple of hens fluttered to the ridge, one gobbler after another hopped off the limb and sailed away silently. My buddy and I rose from our setups and slipped backward through the sparse mesquite and cacti. About 20 minutes later, we crept up a bare hillside at the western end of the ridge. I blew a crow call, and the birds responded about 250 yards away. Sweet. We were hanging with them, and they hadn't moved very far. Better, with some fairly thick timber between us, we could slip in closer before trying to work the gobblers.

Within minutes, we'd cut the gap in half and were standing in a point of woods that jutted into an open field above the creek bed. The turkeys were probably 120 steps west, just over a small rise. It seemed like a perfect killing setup. All we had to do was call them 80 steps along the field edge, and when they popped over the rise, we could make two of them flop.

However, after 15 minutes of calling and gobbling, it seemed obvious that the breeding flock was not coming. Maybe we needed to press the issue. The birds had gone south the previous day into a wide-open pasture. We might try to get ahead of them. Or, we could slip closer, hopefully into their comfort zone. Still, if we stayed put, we wouldn't bump any birds, and a satellite gobbler would probably pop in for a look.


What would you have done? Post your decision below.

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RE: Decision Time: Showdown at Rio Ridge

Postby WillowRidgeCalls » October 18th, 2010, 8:49 am

With that many Toms working that area I'd be staying put, as long as the birds are active there is no reason to move unless they all move off.

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RE: Decision Time: Showdown at Rio Ridge

Postby Bobbyparks » October 18th, 2010, 11:36 am

What you say is times I've walked out of thr woods wishing I'd just done the opposite of everything I tried to do that didn't work

I believe Scott is right in that with 20 Rios running around loose it's just a matter of time before one wanders within hearing range after the morning progresses.

That said.

Rios especially that many of em provide a great opportunity to get aggressive and move with em and on em. If terrain allowed and they stayed vocal I'd likely take a chance with the thought in mind I can afford to blow it once and still have a chance at another one later.

Aggressive on this one
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