Charlie Elk: I came to appreciate turkeys are birds with little to no thought process or memory and a lot of their days are spent wandering around on a trial and error basis.
I did not want to hijack the other thread, but I wanted to comment on this. Charlie, that is a profound statement. I am not sure I wholly agree, or agree with your other premise; that being that turkeys mostly random in their activities. On the other hand, I have stopped believing that there is a great intelligence lurking between a turkey's eyes. Let me throw out my opinions on the subject, and perhaps we can start a dialogue.
First off: Do turkeys have a memory? I would venture to say they do, but it is not a good one. My strongest example of how poor it can be is that I can sit on the back of camp and see the same gobblers come down the same road at sundown. They get down to a particular spot and see me out sipping my cocktail and run back the way they came. Every instance seems to be a wholly new experience for them. If they spy me on Monday, they are not wary on Tuesday or Wednesday. This was a Eureka moment for me. It took a couple of seasons for me to realize what I was seeing. Charlie, you seem to be right.
On the other hand, I can tell you that turkeys do get shy to a blind. If you miss a gob, you probably will not see him anywhere near that blind for the rest of season. Go figure.
Second: Are turkey's movements governed by anything beyond randomness? Yes, but I am not sure exactly what that is. I have been hunting the same property since 2002. During that time, I have seen several generations of birds come and go. There are definite patterns to their movements that span generations. I do not believe that is a sign of culture-- they are not imparting turkey wisdom to each other. However, I do see a sameness to it. A gobbler that struts in a certain pasture in early afternoon can be hunted pretty much the same as his grandfather who strutted the same pasture 5 years ago.
Now, I can see that the random idea does explain this up to a point. Turkeys respond to the immediate environment, and certain landforms seem to funnel them into remarkably similar behavior-- day to day as well as generation to generation. However, I see things that I cannot explain. Why this pasture and not that? Why do I never see turkeys here vs. there? Why do gobblers to the east of a certain blind always circle to the south before coming in and never come straight in?
Third: Can turkeys become call shy? I would say yes, but I do not think it is purely from over-exposure to calls. I am a hunter that spends 100% of his time hunting the same 200 acres all season. My experience has been that I must frequently change out my calls over the season in order to be successful. It is not a for-sure thing. In fact, I did very little to change my calls after the first week this past season, but there were fewer times this past year that I actually had gobblers respond to me. In most years, I find that I have to change the physical call as well as the method in order to get a positive response from gobblers. In a lot of circumstances, I know I am calling to the same gobbler. At some point in the season what got him hot the first week ceases to be effective. It may be a lot of things, but I believe that part of it is the gobbler has come to the call previously and been frustrated that a hen did not present herself for breeding.
Now, how can a reconcile all this into a cohesive view? On the one hand, gobblers can't seem to remember that I sit out back every evening, but on the other hand, they can remember that some hen calls lead to grief and frustration while others don't, or that if they stray to close to a certain spot in a fence line they'll get a loud noise and the sting of a stray pellet? Look, after 30-some years, I still see myself as a beginner. I don't have as many answers as questions. I'm just saying.