Decision Time: Sour Grapes

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: Sour Grapes

Postby Brian Lovett » July 28th, 2010, 3:58 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.

Sour Grapes

Gobblers don't always follow rules laid out in hallowed journals such as Turkey & Turkey Hunting. After all, they have a brain the size of a grape. However, things get tougher when birds actually follow the textbook but you're absent for the lesson.

One crisp April morning, I joined a friend at a central-Wisconsin farm. As the sky brightened, several birds began gobbling from the western edge of a narrow timbered ravine. We slipped through the woods on a logging road, skirted a small marsh and stopped where the western wood line met an old pasture. The open, rock-studded area didn't provide a good setup, but with fly-down time nearing, we couldn't go any farther without bumping the birds.

After a brief sneak, I plopped down against a fence post and scratched out some quiet tree-yelps on a slate. The nearest gobbler -- probably 120 steps from my friend -- hammered back, followed by three that were roosted farther south.

The closest longbeard soon pitched straight down and gobbled at the pasture edge beneath his roost tree. The distant turkeys hit the ground and clammed up, but no matter. I was focused on the pasture bird. But then, a hen pitched down into the pasture, and I heard several yelps from the gobbler's vicinity. Of course, he went silent.

A half-hour later, I called five hens to the fence, but the gobbler never showed. When I cutt hard five minutes later, the longbeard gobbled perhaps 10 steps from his original location. He hadn't moved. To make matters worse, he then quit gobbling.

I agonized for the next 45 minutes. That rat was probably still there in the pasture. Should we grit our teeth and stay put or force the issue by circling around the woods and trying the bird from a new angle?

What would you have done? Post your decision below.

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RE: Decision Time: Sour Grapes

Postby BigBuckeye » July 28th, 2010, 4:59 am

If the hens walked past me, I would wait him out and continue calling to him until I had to eat lunch.  Then I would try to go at him from another angle.
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RE: Decision Time: Sour Grapes

Postby Uncle Nicky1 » July 28th, 2010, 9:47 am

I think I would sit tight, the gobbler has to leave the pasture sooner or later. If the hens headed your direction, there's a fair chance he'll go in their direction...or maybe come back looking for them later. I'm assuming you can't get a look into the field without being spotted? It would sure make it easier if you could see what he was up to.

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RE: Decision Time: Sour Grapes

Postby WillowRidgeCalls » July 29th, 2010, 6:46 am

I would of been on the move, as long as you couldn't see the gobbler and what he was doing, and he couldn't see you. I would of backed out and went to one of two areas. I'd of circled the old pasture to the south, if possible. You knew there were other birds in that area somewhere, a fresh hen coming in to that area just might get them fired back up? The other opion would be to back out and reset up on the SW side of that swamp you skirted on your way in. Knowing how well these WI birds love swamps and chances are those hens that passed you at the fence headed there, I'd be set up there for the last morning gobblers looking for hens. They know where the hens hang out so sooner or later one would be visiting that area?

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RE: Decision Time: Sour Grapes

Postby allaboutshooting » July 29th, 2010, 1:18 pm

Early on, I would have moved and did on many occasions but almost always it was a mistake for me. These days I sit and wait. I figure that if he felt safe where he was, he'll probably return to find that hen that was there earlier. I've had much better luck with that tactic than I have with moving.

I've found other benefits to waiting. I can usually take a nice nap. I can have snack. I can formulate the story about how he was almost right there but I just did not want to take a long shot. I can take a nap. I can see other wildlife. I can take a nap. I can experience the unique feeling of having my posterior become totally numb, except for that one place where a root or large rock is jammed against my sciatic nerve causing excruciating pain, at just the time the gobbler comes back into view.

Yes, I'll just wait.

"If he's out of range, it just means that he has another day and so do you."

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RE: Decision Time: Sour Grapes

Postby Bobbyparks » July 30th, 2010, 10:24 am

I'm sure I should say I'd be patient and stay put. Sitting and waiting is probably the best chance here since he quietend down and may still be with a hen at the roost spot and may well follow in the footstpes of the earlier hens.

My guess is thats what you did, stayed patient and he driftened into your string of shot l?

That said, I'm not as patient as I used to be and you mentioned you had to shock him into gobbling with cutting so he's not sounding like he's very responsive........yet.

It's not easy to leave a bird thats 120 yards away and go looking for another bird but...

If I had another day or two, I might hang tight. If I had only that day, I'd move and at least relocate even if it was 40 yards around (if there's a spot to relocate to) and try calling again.

Otherwise I'd hook around and search for the other gobblers you heard earlier on the roost and try to find a bird that wanted to play. Moving to a new location might shake the other gobbler loose or gwetting closer to the earlier birds might fire them up

The less time I have, the more aggressive I get
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