Decision Time: The Gap Gobbler

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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Ben Sobieck
 
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Decision Time: The Gap Gobbler

Postby Ben Sobieck » June 9th, 2010, 4:55 am

Decision Time is a new forum feature. Editor Brian Lovett will share a scenario from his 20+ years hunting turkeys. Each hinges on a critical decision. Post what choice you would have made, then see how things actually turned out.

The Gap Gobbler

The second Mike Miller stopped the truck, a distant gobble rang out. We were in business.

"He's in the wide open," Miller said. "We're gonna have to crawl to get into position."

So we did. Miller led the way across the Missouri countryside, while friend Roger Hook and I followed closely behind.

After 200 yards, we were at a fence line about 80 steps of the hard-gobbling turkey. However, there was nothing but a CRP field between us and the gobbler.

"We'll have to try him here," Miller said.

Miller, Hook and I started calling, but the bird wouldn't budge. Then we poured the coals to our yelping. The bird stayed put.

Finally, we shut up for 20 minutes. Still, the bird held fast, gobbling all the while.

Searching desperately for solutions, I spied a small knoll along the fence line to our left. If we could bridge the gap, we might be in better position to work the turkey. However, the bird would only have to take a few steps forward to bust us in the open field.

It was a classic case of patience vs. aggressiveness, and the wrong choice would end the hunt abruptly.

What would you have done?

Post your decision, then click here to see what actually happened.

Get an insight into what the pros would've done in 99 Turkey Hunting Secrets.

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Ben Sobieck
 
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RE: Decision Time: The Gap Gobbler

Postby Ben Sobieck » June 9th, 2010, 5:41 am

I would have gone with aggressive calling, but stayed put. Maybe the gobbler needed more time to warm to the calls.

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shad309
 
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RE: Decision Time: The Gap Gobbler

Postby shad309 » June 9th, 2010, 6:50 am

Learning from past mistakes, I would wait him out. He may just decide to come & check things out after all. If he doesn't and goes the other way it's time to try and outsmart & outrun him. Hopefully he comes in soon but "search & destroy" is always better than "teaching a bird".
 
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RE: Decision Time: The Gap Gobbler

Postby Chaz Lyle » June 9th, 2010, 9:16 am

Many factors to consider. What is on the other side of the bird? Why is he where he is? 90% of the time you face this situation, the bird isn't moving because there is a hen or other birds present. I faced this exact situation here in Missouri this year at 12:25 in Missouri. Bird was in the corner of a field with his feet planted for 4 hens. We got to 80 yards and when he decided to show us the back of his tail fan we dove in the field and stuck a full strut decoy out. When he turned back around and saw the top of the tail fan he decided that no one was going to steal his girlfriend. He was dead 45 seconds later at 8 yards. Granted, a full strut may not have been available at the time, as we all know they can be a great tool to break a planted bird.

When faced with this situation it all depends on many variables. You were in Missouri, so what time was it? Did you have 30 minutes or 3 hours to kill that bird? If you've got a bit, give him the silent treatment for 30 minutes and let him get curious, especially since you've got a visual on him. If it doesn't work, it's time to get aggressive.

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Gobblerman
 
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RE: Decision Time: The Gap Gobbler

Postby Gobblerman » June 9th, 2010, 9:29 am

I like these "scenario" games,...especially when it is based on a real experience where real decisions are made and the outcome can be evaluated beforehand and the results can be discussed afterwards.
 
At one time in my turkey hunting life, I would have been impatient enough that I would most likely would have moved...if I was sure I had a decent chance of getting away with it.  Not so much now, although it depends entirely upon the situation and my "need" to kill a gobbler,...and specifically, my need to kill that particular gobbler.  That "need" is based on a lot of factors,....where I'm hunting, conditions I'm hunting under, numbers of birds available, etc., etc.....all of which contribute to the state of mind I am in relative to that particular situation and bird.  Desperation causes hunters to make unwise decisions, and I rarely am desperate to kill a gobbler anymore....although I still make plenty of unwise decisions, regardless. 
 
The point is that, nowadays, I generally use these kinds of situations as learning experiences more than anything else.  In this specific situation, the bird is known to be there, in a particular spot, undisturbed.  This is the perfect opportunity to see how a gobbler reacts to all forms of stimuli.  He hasn't responded, positively or negatively, to turkey calling in any form that has been presented to him, but he is still there.  Why rush the situation?  Is there a reason to hurry? 
 
Based on what has been tried so far, I would contemplate what might lure the gobbler closer.  Would scratching in the field litter be loud enough for the gobbler to hear it?  If so, what's the risk of trying that?  Probably none whatsoever....and that might be just what breaks him loose.  Do you have a wing or fan available?  If safety is not an issue, why not try some wing flaps, or drags?  ...or possibly stick the tail fan up above the cover and move it naturally.  One of those might do the trick, and are not likely to scare off the bird (once again, if safety is assured in their use).  Finally, if someone in the group is capable of making a realistic gobble, which I would suspect would be the case with the group mentioned, I would try that and evaluate the response. 
 
If all else failed, I would just sit and wait the gobbler out.  He will eventually break and make a move somewhere, and when he does, I would evaluate the possibilities and move with him.  There is some likelyhood that when he does decide to move, he will come take a look where he has heard/seen all of the activity.  If you/I have been patient, that is when the curtain will descend.
 
A final comment on this scenario:  Being in a situation where you can see the birds is a huge advantage in the game.  If you get in those situations, you should take the opportunity to observe and learn how turkeys...gobblers and hens...react to the various things that go on around them.
 
Jim
 
 

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Brian Lovett
 
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RE: Decision Time: The Gap Gobbler

Postby Brian Lovett » June 9th, 2010, 11:07 am

Author's note: Should have included this in the original text, but we could not see the bird. He was just over a small rise at the top of the field.

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JPH
 
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RE: Decision Time: The Gap Gobbler

Postby JPH » June 9th, 2010, 11:46 am

My response to this scenario is heavily dependent on where the hunt is taking place. Virtually all the hunting I do is on well marked, private property. I am meticulous in my communications with landowners and I go out of my way to confirm that my permission to hunt on a given day is exclusive. Even so, I recognize that there are no guarantees. When using aggressive tactics like the one I am going to suggest, a hunt must always keep his/her head clear and be ready to pull the plug if something does not look or feel right.

I've have long been of the opinion that successful turkey calling is largely about calling from the right location. If faced with the situation described above, I would assume that I just hadn't arrived at the spot yet. I would move.

I am assuming that the fence crossing is not an issue? If so it sounds like a matter of being able to weave through CRP grass. No easy task. I do think that task can be made a little easier by doing a couple of things. One, I would ask the other two callers to remain where they are and continue calling. If I was the "shooter" I would then get my hen decoy on it's stake and start incing my way to the knoll described. Yes, that's right I would crawl behind the decoy, incing along 3 feet at a time. I've done it before and it has allowed me to get inside the sweet spot of several mature gobblers who had hung up in fields. In two cases I was able to use the decoy to reach a place where I could see the bird and start working him with soft calling. After getting an amazing display I was able to pull them into the sights.

Again, I would suggest this only if I continued to feel as if the gobbler and I are the only two out in that field! 

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RE: Decision Time: The Gap Gobbler

Postby Bobbyparks » June 9th, 2010, 12:27 pm

As a couple other mentioned it depends. I never quite know what I'll do until I do it. That said: If it's travel hunt where I can reasonably expect to have some bird encounters, that will factor in before it's over.

Just to guess what I'd do:

I'd start calling, and then get more aggresive. If he's hot and gobbling but stuck to a hen. I'll might switch and try a fighting purr as low percentage as this tactic can be or even a goble to him. I might try to crank it up and then play hard to get but I don't do this much if a gobblers with a hen and mostly when a bird has come to me and then held back.

If this my property and I have limited spots, I'd back out and try him again later. If it's as I mentoioned a travel hunt with expected opportunities, I'd push it and go for it.


Truth is if he's tying my morning up and not budging, and I thought I had a reasonable chance to move on the bird, I'd lighten my load, slide out of my vest and go. If I had someone with me I might get them to stay put and continue to call in hopes of keeping up with the bird and hoping they'll stay put as they were when I first ran into them.

I'm guesing this is a travel hunt so I'm gonna try and move using the terrain I have, leave someone else back where I started calling to the bird, crawl up as close as I can and try and call him from a different spot and hope he drifts over. If I bust him I go back toi what I was doing when I ran into him.

Now I go see how wrong I was.
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Bobbyparks
 
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RE: Decision Time: The Gap Gobbler

Postby Bobbyparks » June 9th, 2010, 12:32 pm

Message error
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eddie234
 
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RE: Decision Time: The Gap Gobbler

Postby eddie234 » June 10th, 2010, 7:51 am

being fairly green, I would have to play the percentages. Call, stay put and then go silent.

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