Decision Time: Duck or Dash?

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: Duck or Dash?

Postby Brian Lovett » August 25th, 2010, 3:41 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.

Duck or Dash?

If I hadn't known the birds were still in the tree, I would have sworn they were running away.

Steve Stoltz and I had already traipsed across several hundred yards of Missouri real estate, yet the gobblers seemed like they were a country mile away. And with fly-down time approaching, we needed to cover that distance double-quick. Still, as light began to filter through the eastern clouds, I wondered how close we could realistically get.

But we had to try. The birds were pretty hot, and they were the only turkeys we'd heard from our high-top pasture listening point. It was a no-brainer to pursue them.

After a half-mile hike, we sloshed through mud and marsh grass to a fence line that abutted a small woodlot. The birds were on a ridge about 80 yards away, and a pasture with enough brush to choke a snake stood between the gobblers and us.

Stoltz paused to assess our plight. We could set up in the thick woodlot and try to call the birds along the edge of a corn-stubble field to the west. But judging from the terrain, the birds would probably fly down south to the crest of the ridge.

The southeastern corner of the brushy pasture opened up somewhat, but we'd have to make a daring dash along the edge of the woods -- likely in plain sight of the gobblers -- to reach it.

I figured it was best to set up in the woodlot and take our chances. Day was breaking, and I didn't want to spook the only vocal turkeys in the area. However, choosing a lousy setup might also doom the hunt.

What would you have done?
Post your decision below.

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RE: Decision Time: Duck or Dash?

Postby Bobbyparks » August 25th, 2010, 7:17 am


This is one that I'd consider close to a toss up. An overly thick woodlot in my mind would minimize the chance the gobblers would come to your call so it's not the set up any of us would want.

If you really felt that the birds would see the sprint to the fields edge...I'd rule that out for sure. It would be better to wait even if was for another day and get in earlier next time.

I believe I'd opt for the bad set up in the woodlot, try calling to them, and if they didn't respond, move thru the brush to a better set up closer to the birds and where they had a path to come in on. I assume omnce they are down their line of sight has been much reduced and you can use the cover.

I might even consider not calling at first and letting them fly down and then ease thru the brush and call.
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RE: Decision Time: Duck or Dash?

Postby WillowRidgeCalls » August 25th, 2010, 2:40 pm

I'm with Bobby on this one, trying to get closer in the dawns early light would be doomed. If that brush is thick enough to choke a goat then I'd move 3/4 the way through it until I could see the corn stubble and not touch a call until after they flew down, then the thick brush is your friend at least you can move in it without them seeing you. Trying to call them through it is no small chore unless there is a two track or well used deer trail crossing it.

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RE: Decision Time: Duck or Dash?

Postby Gobblerman » August 26th, 2010, 12:44 pm

I'm right with Bobby and Scott on this one.  This one is a no-brainer to me.  Pick the best set-up you can without risking being seen.  It is always better to call from a less-than-ideal location than it is to risk spooking the birds you are hunting, especially if you are walking in "plain sight" of them.  You always have the option of relocating once the gobblers settle in to their morning routine.  Besides, our perception of what constitutes a lousy set-up does not necessarily conform to what a gobbler thinks about it.  I have had them come in to me at times when I was sitting there thinking to myself, "man, this set-up stinks bigtime".  Go figure! 
...And another thing, I can't recall ever having a gobbler come to my calling when he saw me walking in on him!

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