Decision Time: Smallville

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: Smallville

Postby Brian Lovett » July 6th, 2011, 5:01 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, and then see how things actually turned out.


I hunt a lot of small properties, which can be good and bad. On the positive side, it lets me learn the land fairly quickly, and I can often slip close to turkeys. Conversely, I'm limited by property lines and other considerations.

That's where I found myself late one May morning. The 40-acre chunk I'd been hunting was 90 percent open, but turkeys from the neighboring ridge loved to strut and feed there. I typically stayed away from the property line by the ridge because the neighbor is very, um, protective about his ground. But after a fruitless cold-calling session, I passed by the property line and heard a gobbler hammer at a screeching hawk. Hmm.

I yelped, and two gobblers hammered back -- close. They seemed pretty hot, so I figured I could call them across the line onto the 40 where I had permission. But that represented a problem. I was at the crest of a hill, and the property line and edge of the woods were 50 steps distant. The birds would likely stop there to look for the source of the calling, and unless they stepped across the line into the open, I couldn't shoot. Of course, I could throw a decoy out and hope it coerced the turkeys to take another five or 10 steps toward me.

I considered backing down the hill 30 or 40 steps to make the birds search for my yelping. That way, if they topped the hill and looked for the hen, I could shoot. However, they might also stick to the woods to my left, only 10 or so yards of which was on my side of the fence.

Suddenly, the little 40 seemed mighty restrictive. But with the turkeys gobbling on their own, it was about to get awfully busy.

What would you have done? Post your decision below.

Click here for Lovett's decision.

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RE: Decision Time: Smallville

Postby Bobbyparks » July 6th, 2011, 11:45 am

I don't like to give up ground on a bird but I will if it provides a better set up...and puts me in timber that gives them reason to believe a hens in there that they can't see and makes them come looking.

Bsaed on what you've described and because I don't use decoys (which could work in your situation)...I'd back up and watch the hill and the strip of woods of which only 10 yards that belongs to you

The birds sound hot enough that they might come all the way.
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Cut N Run
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RE: Decision Time: Smallville

Postby Cut N Run » July 7th, 2011, 8:29 am

I'm a big fan of getting well hidden and making them come looking too. Even if they're in a favorite strutting area, calling from an unseen close hen may probably cause one or both birds to get interested & come have a look. If one comes your way, the other probably will too.
Small properties can be as much of a curse as they are a blessing. Steve (Sit Still...) and I got used on a gobbler last Spring that had been roosted on a farm I have permission to hunt, yet he headed toward calling a day too soon and was tagged by another hunter on another nearby small farm. We were wondering where he went the next morning when we heard nothing.
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