Decision Time: Tussle With Russell

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: Tussle With Russell

Postby Brian Lovett » December 15th, 2010, 5:35 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.

Tussle With Russell

It was my first turkey hunting trip to Missouri, and I was fired up. So was Russell, the farmer on whose land we'd hunt.

And Russell liked to talk.

And talk.

And ... well, you get the idea.

Anyway, by the time my buddy and I got Russell out of the barnyard and into the woods, it was past fly-down time, and a 25-mph wind had kicked up. We yelped a few times and heard nothing. Well, nothing but the howling wind, at least.

Having nothing better to do, we set two decoys on an open knob in some sparse timber and cold-called for a bit. After one sequence, Russell said he'd heard a gobble. I was skeptical, but when I looked up to see two longbeards sprinting toward us, my opinion changed.

Before we could react, the birds were within 25 steps, bee-lining right at the decoys. And with nothing but air between my gun barrel and the twin softball heads, I probably couldn't blink without getting busted. However, the birds certainly wouldn't hang around long.

Crap! Should I try to mount my gun quickly, assuredly spooking the birds in the process? Or was there a chance I could remain still and wait for an opportune moment to move? I had about one second to choose.

What would you have done? Post your decision below.

Click here for Lovett's decision.

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RE: Decision Time: Tussle With Russell

Postby WillowRidgeCalls » December 15th, 2010, 3:19 pm

If the birds were only 25yds with only air between you and them, I'd go for the quick shot. The chance of waiting to mount your gun and not being seen with two birds there is slim. With the birds coming in and being focused on the decoys, it gives you a better chance to quickly mount the gun and get off a shot before they have a chance to get out of range, even if they do see you they can't out run the shot.

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RE: Decision Time: Tussle With Russell

Postby Bobbyparks » December 15th, 2010, 5:58 pm

Scott's suggestion probably gives you as good of chance as any.....but...I might still start a slow move up with the gun and not do the snap shot unless they responded to my movement and forced me to...I've actually been able to pick my gun up out of my lap and by moving in slow motion raise my gun up and shoot a bird on a number of occasions , once with 4 hens and a gobbler within the distance your talking about...and it was with easterns.
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RE: Decision Time: Tussle With Russell

Postby eggshell » December 16th, 2010, 12:43 pm

I have on a few occasions been able to shoulder a gun on a bird with a steady rise of the gun, no quick moves. If he putts and bolts snap shoot if possible.  Many times they will just get fidgety and start to walk off. However, if your hunting pressured birds they are gone like a magician at any movement. The strategy also depends on terrain. If it's open field for the range of a shot, I'll pull right up and dare him to escape. In that scenario I hope he decides to fly...the time it takes to set wings and gain altitude will be his demise, a running bird is a little tougher, but they have this bad habit of running in straight lines. I have also found at very close range they will bolt or fly a lot quicker, so here is something I actually done once. A bird stepped out at 10-15 yards and me looking the other way. I just wiggled my fingers and froze the rest of my body. He putted and started to walk away and when he was at 30 yards I raised the gun and shot, he never bolted because he already thought he was getting away. Distance makes them more comfortable.

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RE: Decision Time: Tussle With Russell

Postby Cut N Run » December 16th, 2010, 5:38 pm

I would try to move glacially slow to get my gun in position. You said it was windy, so the woods were bound to be moving around some. The gobblers might have their attention on the decoys too. Moving too fast might get you busted, moving slowly might get the job done.

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RE: Decision Time: Tussle With Russell

Postby boxcallkid » December 19th, 2010, 11:02 am

Before I look at Lovetts decision, I'll chime.
Lots of good factors here, and some bad. He did say it was the first day with Russell and the hunt was early. First factor; was Russ also caught with his guard down or was he ready? I don't know. I definatly would've been looking to see if he was able to drop the hammer and seal the deal. Next, is this the only day your going to hunt? if not there's time to gamble on the next set-up. All other factors aside, lets say this is the only day and your only chance.
I'm gonna sit tight and wait for the birds to make a mistake. If they go into strut and block their view I'll make my move. If I have to wait for them to lose interest and start moving off so be it. While they do this I'll be looking for them to again make that fatal mistake. If the toms have made it out of range I'll be looking for my chance to call them back, after I've gotten myself more prepared or positioned. After all it's just a turkey and there's probobly more and I'll just try again.
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RE: Decision Time: Tussle With Russell

Postby TeocTom » January 13th, 2011, 5:06 pm

If I were in that situation I would probably be more tempted to freeze rather than react.
However, if they are focused in on the decoys you may be able to get a little grace being their attention is focused on something other than a possible threat.

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RE: Decision Time: Tussle With Russell

Postby dewey » January 26th, 2011, 10:02 am

I would agree with boxcallkid and freeze and wait for them to turn their backs while they are strutting. Like Brian said the wind is blowing like crazy and while their backs are turned could raise your gun up and fire because they are not going to hear you with all of the wind making a commotion. Especially if they are focused in on the decoy, they seem to ignore everything else going on around them when they are intrigued by a decoy.

my 2 cents.

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RE: Decision Time: Tussle With Russell

Postby DeanoZ » February 5th, 2011, 4:08 am

I tell ya this one hits close to home with a certain gobbler I was chasing last year.  After a couple sits without luck I finally found the right setup in a hedge row and threw my deke out about 20 yards.  Called all morning and did not hear a damn thing.  I was feeling a bit down and let my guard down...and by guard I mean I put my gun in my lap, took my mask off and my call out of my mouth.  Figured it was as good a time as any to put a dip in mouth.  About that time, that gob with Jake in tow came out of now where and before i could blink were at my deke.  So there I was cold flat I try to raise my gun slowly or snap it quickly to my shoulders and get off a shot.  I opted for the slow approach and he busted me and ran off before I could get of a shot...if I had to do it all over again, snapping one off quickly would have been the ticket, but then again whose to say I'd of been quick enough or more importantly accurate enough and risk maiming the bird...hmmmmmm.

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RE: Decision Time: Tussle With Russell

Postby Uncle Nicky1 » February 7th, 2011, 2:18 am

I would just freeze & wait for them to turn their back, or get behind a decoy. Moving too soon and too quickly will just educate them, and likely you'll get busted. And, even if thet do leave, if you haven't spooked them too badly, you might be able to call them in...but this time, be ready![;)]


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