Decision Time: Case of the Crooked Creek

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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Decision Time: Case of the Crooked Creek

Postby Brian Lovett » August 17th, 2010, 8:52 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.

Case of the Crooked Creek

Now and then, you experience events that make you raise an eyebrow. Maybe it's just me, but turkeys seem to play a big part in that.

Several springs ago, a buddy and I struck a gobbler in a thick, wooded creek bottom. The bird responded enthusiastically and sounded like he was coming, so we scrambled to a wooded point east of the turkey and anxiously placed our shotguns atop our knees. Despite all the initial excitement, however, the bird progressively lost interest and faded away off the property.

The second morning, the creek bird was hammering again. We crept in as close as we dared, set up at the edge of a small meadow just 60 yards north of the turkey and went to work. The bird honored my soft tree-yelping and soon hit the ground with a thump. He uttered one ear-splitting gobble on the ground and then shut up. I was convinced he was coming. Forty minutes and one tepid going-away gobble later, I knew he'd again wandered off the property.

I vowed not to waste any more time on the bird. There were too many other turkeys on the property, and we only had a few more days to hunt.

The third morning, we were a half-mile west, listening from a high spot near a big oak ridge, hoping to hear some birds in the timber. As you've probably guessed, regular gobbling soon emanated from the familiar creek bottom to our east.

Sheesh. We were stuck between trying to work a very frustrating, uncooperative turkey or prospecting elsewhere. Which would it be?

What would you have done? Post your decision below.

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Cut N Run
 
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RE: Decision Time: Case of the Crooked Creek

Postby Cut N Run » August 17th, 2010, 5:33 pm

It depends on what stage of the season you were in by how this bird was reacting. He may have had a favored strut zone on that neighboring property and was just waiting for the "hen" to come to him as he headed toward it. He may have had encounters with other hunters and was call-shy.

If the gobbler was leaving the property approximately the same direction each time, I would scout out as good a set-up between where he's roosted and where he usually goes and hope to call him toward someplace he already wants to go.

Jim
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RE: Decision Time: Case of the Crooked Creek

Postby WillowRidgeCalls » August 17th, 2010, 6:45 pm

I'm with Jim on this one. If he doesn't have hens that are taking him away, but he leaves the same way everytime then he's got a good reason to go there and no matter what you do I dought you'll change his mind.
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RE: Decision Time: Case of the Crooked Creek

Postby Bobbyparks » August 18th, 2010, 2:53 am

I'm in agreement with Jim and Scott.

If you've got a few days left to hunt you have options. Search for more cooperative birds and use this one as a fall back or give him another shot and then search for other gobblers.

I'm a gluton for punishment so I'd stay after this bird just because he has now become a real challenge.

You've covered North and East so maybe it's time to set up more in a Southwestern postion if you can. I 'd even consider not calling at first and let them get down and see if they're going to drift in your dirction on their own or let them get close and try and pull him over. If you call you may find they the birds /hens now want to go Northeast? It's happened to me.

The bottom line answer/ attempt is to set up on the side they've gone the past 2 times and hope it's a natural pattern and not just because the hens heard you calling and led him away.

I've had situations like this in tne past where I couldn't "not call" and it turned into a a merry-go- round and every time they went opposite of me.

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RE: Decision Time: Case of the Crooked Creek

Postby Uncle Nicky1 » August 18th, 2010, 2:55 am

I'd give it another try...what else do you have to lose, beside maybe a little confidence?[:D] 
 
I'd move in on him, possibly try to head him off in the direction he had gone to in previous encounters. I would try using a different call than what you had tried in the past, that may make all of the difference?

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RE: Decision Time: Case of the Crooked Creek

Postby Gobblerman » August 18th, 2010, 9:14 am

An assortment of good strategies have already been presented....any of which might work...you never know.

From the information given....non-responsive gobbler roosting in the same spot nightly, multiple days left to hunt, supposedly other gobblers on the property....I would be inclined to leave the old boy alone this time and search for other birds.  First of all, there are two hunters,...and only one gobbler found so far.  You are going to be looking for more birds to hunt at some point anyway, so why not take the time to do it on this morning?  

You probably don't have enough time to get into good position on this bird without risking a good spooking, so why chance it?  There is always tomorrow morning for a good under-cover-of-darkness approach, ....and later today, when the gobbler has sauntered over to the other property, you can go evaluate the route the bird has been taking, make a game plan for the next morning, and figure out where you want to be and how to get there, undetected, in the dark.

My prediction for the outcome.....you looked for other gobblers, found one or more, and had a good hunt...possibly killing a gobbler or two.  Assuming you were still hunting, the next morning you went to the original bird, set up in a better locale....based on the first two mornings patterning.... and killed that bird, as well.  Now I'll go look to see how I did.....

Jim

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RE: Decision Time: Case of the Crooked Creek

Postby BigBuckeye » August 18th, 2010, 9:48 am

As much as I like turkey's in the freezer, I would appreciate the story I would have if I happened to get that nasty bugger that had been teasing me [:D]
 
Work on the bad bird and maybe you will call in one of the others is my call.
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RE: Decision Time: Case of the Crooked Creek

Postby Kawboy888 » August 23rd, 2010, 10:04 am

For 99% of us turkey hunters I think that there is only one option here. You go after that bird. I disagree that "it all depends" on anything. We don't hunt turkeys for trophies, most birds are roughly the same size. Our main focus on hunting these animals is not to feed the family, a bird is a one dinner and 4 sandwiches tomorrow size meal. We hunt them because it's a challenge. That's the whole point. How could any turkey hunter not go after this bird. He has outsmarted you two days in a row, it's time for revenge. Turkey hunting is a series of battles. Battle of wits, battle of patience and a battle of skill. I wouldn't care if this bird weighed 17 pounds and had a 7 inch beard. I would take every opportunity the good Lord gave me to make a move on this bird and win my battle. This bird gobbled for a reason, maybe it just ends up being about personal triumph and the spirit of hunting. I just can't see how any turkey hunter would pass up this opportunity considering the previous two days of hunting.

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RE: Decision Time: Case of the Crooked Creek

Postby Cut N Run » August 23rd, 2010, 10:48 am

Rich, I said it depends meaning that depending on what time of the season it was or how much hunting/calling pressure this bird may have already encountered might cause him to act or react in a way differently compared to an un-pressured gobbler as to how I'd hunt him. I am usually not lucky enough to hunt un-pressured birds (except on Opening Day).

I usually wait until other hunters have gotten discouraged & given up, hunt later into the day, or when the third week of the season rolls around and the gobblers are lonesome and are looking for some company before I kick it into high gear. If the bird is playing too hard to get, he may have hens that need to start going to nests before I'll likely see him. If he has been called to by over-calling reckless hunters, or even been shot at & is jumpy, then I want to go where he already wants to go and hit him with minimal calling (no yelping) for my best opportuntty. See what I'm saying?

I had a similar situation work out that way on the second bird I tagged this year. He wouldn't come to calls, had hens with him most of the time, and had been stung with some #6 shot last Spring. He flat out wouldn't play along to calling. It took getting into his wheelhouse on a rainy morning where he couldn't hear me come in, call minimally, and use a gobbler decoy to infuriate him (though he was following hens and they had already pulled him into range before he saw the decoy). The morning I shot him was the first time I saw him good, even though I'd heard him gobbling several mornings (usually as he was going away from other hunter's calls) in the weeks before.

So it does depend.

Jim
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RE: Decision Time: Case of the Crooked Creek

Postby Bobbyparks » August 23rd, 2010, 11:34 am

I admire your "go get em" attitude Rich and I would also want to go after this bird partly because I like a challenge and I don't like to let a bird whip me although plenty of em do. I'm also hardheaded, delusional, and don't know when to quit. Sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn't

There are no absoutes with turkey hunting though and I agree with Jim almost every decision I make "depends" on something which may not be anything more than a hunch or reads I get or a quick mental processing of the time and situtation.

I have stayed with a bird similar to this scenerio and the bird peed in my cornflakes 3 days straight....so on the 4th day because I'm smart enough to know when to realizse I'm being defeated....I went right back in and let him pee in my cornflakes for a 4th time. . Eveytime he went away from me whether I called or not...he was charmed or I was cursed...not sure which.

With this bird discussed here either tactic could work and I suspect this would be more of a split in how most would go about it.

Jim Bates chose to go after other birds and then come back and I know from personal experinece he is one of the best turkey hunters you'l ever meet. He's gifted and if you did what he tells you you'll kill turkeys way beyond the average. He has a knack for making reads


there's no doubt in my mind either approach could work...........or on a bad run neither would work.
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