Decision Time: A Bench Too Far

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: A Bench Too Far

Postby Brian Lovett » August 4th, 2010, 3:49 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.

A Bench Too Far

Is it better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at all? Who knows? However, it might be better to not hear a gobble than to be thwarted by a seemingly sure thing.

Four years ago, a friend and I stood atop a high Minnesota ridge when a bird sounded off from what seemed like a mile across a deep ravine. I wasn't thrilled about going up or down those slippery, multiflora rose-filled slopes, but the bird was hammering, so I couldn't resist.

We made the hike, and as we neared the crest, the turkey gobbled close -- almost too close -- blowing our hats off. Immediately, we dug into some oaks and assessed the situation. It was almost too perfect. The bird was strutting and gobbling on an open hardwood bench atop the ridge. We were just below the lip of the ridge, probably about 60 steps from the gobbler. If we could just lure the bird 20 to 25 steps to the crest of the hill, he'd be in easy shotgun range when he poked his head up.

I hit the slate call, and the longbeard triple-gobbled. My buddy's eyes lit up as he leveled his shotgun across his knee.

But after several tense minutes, it became apparent the bird wasn't coming. The gobbler honored all of my calls with booming responses, and his loud drumming indicated he was almost within range. However, he remained in the same spot, strutting, gobbling and drumming in the early-morning sunlight.

After 20 minutes, the situation hadn't changed. I sighed and pondered whether to remain patient or have my buddy attempt a bushwhack. The ridge was wide open, so a sneak would be risky. Further, we were at a good setup, and the bird was hotter than a pepper. Surely he'd come eventually -- right?

What would you have done? Post your decision below.

Click here for Lovett's decision.

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Uncle Nicky1
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RE: Decision Time: A Bench Too Far

Postby Uncle Nicky1 » August 4th, 2010, 6:01 am

Sounds  to me like the best thing to do now would be to just stop calling, sit tight, and see if his curiosity gets the better of him..but be ready for anything. I'm guessing most of us have been in this predicament before, and the old adage usually (but not always) holds true-it's pretty difficult to call a turkey DOWN a hill. I would guess if he does come in, he'll come in silently. I'd give it about an hour of silence, and if nothing happens, go look for another bird.

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RE: Decision Time: A Bench Too Far

Postby WillowRidgeCalls » August 4th, 2010, 8:54 am

I would stay put, and give him some very soft clucks to find out exactly where he was. Then nail him with a gobble and come back with some hard cutting. If he gobbled back I'd cut him off with another gobble then soft purrs. If he doesn't gobble back I'd be scratching leaves.

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RE: Decision Time: A Bench Too Far

Postby Bobbyparks » August 4th, 2010, 11:54 am

I'm with Uncle Nick on this one. If he was holding tight but hot I'd "go quiet" and hope he'd drift over.

If he didn't crest the bench ......

I'd check him with a call after 20 minutes or so and then the sneak might be attempted.
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RE: Decision Time: A Bench Too Far

Postby Gobblerman » August 4th, 2010, 12:28 pm

It's hard to say for sure what I would have done in that exact situation, but I know what I did in an almost identical situation just this past spring.  ...Hard gobbling bird just out of sight on a bench,....two of us set up eighty yards away.  I went through the normal calling routine thinking the bird would break and come to us.....then, went silent for a while thinking that would be too much for him to take.  That didn't work either.  
Finally, I had my buddy start closing the distance to the bird while I called to keep him gobbling.... so my partner could sneak in on him.  When my friend had cut the distance in half and was just out of sight of the gobbler, I cutt hard, hoping to pull the tom into sight...and range...of my buddy.  It worked like a charm.  The bird started moving towards me, gobbling hard at each cutt series I made to him.  As my buddy's luck would have it, though,...the gobbler made a half-circle right around him at fifty yards and walked right up to me.  I felt bad about it....but was obliged to have to "collect" the bird. 
Funny thing about it....knowing the birds in that area as well as I do, and thinking that aggressive calling would probably turn him off, rather than on,...I would most likely not have started the really aggressive stuff had we not been in that situation with the gobbler.  Sometimes your "gut feelings" about things just lead you to make the wrong...or right...choices.  "Ya' just plays your cards...and lives with the results...."
Oh yeah, if the "bench gobbler too far" incident had happened to me after the experience I had above, I would likely have tried the same thing just to see what happened.  May have won....may have lost bigtime!

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Cut N Run
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RE: Decision Time: A Bench Too Far

Postby Cut N Run » August 5th, 2010, 2:59 am

I don't get around as well as I used to. I have patience though. I would likely park myself in the best spot available and would hold tight.

My experience says that gobbler was probably in a strut zone and even though he might not be willing to play along, I wouldn't want to bust him out of it and risk hurting my chances at him later.

No telling how many birds have walked on me in a similar situation, but if it is not the last day of the season, He'll probably be back & I may get another good chance at him.

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