Decision Time: Pig Penned

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: Pig Penned

Postby Brian Lovett » January 6th, 2011, 5:19 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.

Pig Penned

The hunt had started with great promise, but there I was -- stuck.

An hour earlier, a friend and I had seen two or three gobblers on an open flat bordering a dry New Mexico creek bottom. After hiding the truck a quarter-mile up the road, we came at the birds from the opposite direction. A mountain point that led to a small row of cedars near an old hog pen hid our approach.

"This is as far as we can go," my friend said. "Let's try them."

I sat by the cedars and yelped. A roaring gobble echoed back. Bingo.

The birds answered my next few calls, too, but didn't get closer. Subsequent calling series garnered a tepid response, and after 20 minutes, the gobblers just stopped answering. I waited 10 minutes. Nothing.

"Are they coming?" I thought. "What the heck?"

There was no way to tell, and I didn't dare peek around the thick cedars to find out. Trouble was, I'd set up too close to the trees, and if the birds came in silently, they'd be almost on top of me before I knew it.

I couldn't leave the setup, of course, but I longed for a clue about the whereabouts of the birds. Should I sit silently and take my chances or try some other calling tactic to elicit a gobble?

What would you have done? Post your decision below.

Click here for Lovett's decision.

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RE: Decision Time: Pig Penned

Postby Gobblerman » January 6th, 2011, 7:32 am

Since NM is my home turf, I should have a better chance than usual to guess this one right.  ....We'll see.
Since you have not indicated that you could hear hens with the gobblers, I will assume you think they are by themselves.  Hens here will generally respond to hen calling in the distance, at least at initial contact. 
My experience with our birds is that they will usually let you know if they are coming, either by gobbling or by coming in strutting and drumming.  When these birds shut up completely, and you can't hear some indication that they are on their way, they usually are not.  However, my first course of action here would be to try to verify their location, and I would typically do that by cutting sharply at them.  This will often elicit a response from hushed-up gobblers here,....unless you have already been overwhelming them with similar agressive calling.
If I cutt at them in this situation, I would be anticipating a gobble from the same spot they were at, or from farther away.  If they answered my first cutting sequence and are closer, it is time to get the gun up and ready because there is a reasonable chance they are going to show up.  If they are not approaching closer but answer the cutting, I will hit them again with the cutts to see how they respond.  Sometimes agressive cutting will change their attitude and bring them to you, even if they have moved off a bit.
On the other hand, if I don't get any response from cutting at them, and they continue to be quiet, or even if they answer agressive calling but continue to move away, I am going to assume that these birds have been "worked" before and are most likely not in the mood for coming to any sort of calling.  We have lots of "gobble and go" birds in NM.  You have to learn when its time to cut your losses and go find a more responsive bird to play with. 

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RE: Decision Time: Pig Penned

Postby WillowRidgeCalls » January 7th, 2011, 4:34 am

If I'm working a bird that wants to answer my calling but isn't interested in moving or goes cold on you I'll hit him with at least a couple of different calls, giving him the impression that there is more than one hen there. Like you stated the bird answered you for 20 min, showing that he is interested by not moving away. I would would switch to a different call and answer my own calling by doing some hen talk between the 2 calls followed up by a gobble at the end of the hen chat. I like to wait about 5 min after the hen talk to come back with a gobble followed by some aggressive cutts. Most times it will fire a bird back up and give you some kind of an idea of where he is.

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RE: Decision Time: Pig Penned

Postby longbeard.386 » January 7th, 2011, 5:24 am

With all those cedars could you move away from these birds? I don't know the cover you came through but if it's suffecient to hide you then you could retreat while calling and then try to set up. Calling while moving away may be something these birds haven't heard and they may think that there are hens leaving the area. That might be the deciding factor or making them move.
"Remember, you never too old to have a happy childhood."

Now I'll go look at what you decided.


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RE: Decision Time: Pig Penned

Postby Cut N Run » January 8th, 2011, 6:17 pm

Since there are two of you, it may make sense to have one drop back and continue calling to draw them past the shooter. If the birds are willing to call back, it would help to keep track of their location.

I have never hunted or seen much of New Mexico. That tactic works around here though.

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RE: Decision Time: Pig Penned

Postby outdoorsmoore » January 10th, 2011, 11:18 am

I would have cutt at them 3 or 4 times. If I did'nt get a response I would get up and try to get ahead of them. They have hens so I need to make it as easy for them to check me out as I can. It does'nt always work but its better than sitting there for too long. Gobblers with hens can get gone faster than believeable.

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RE: Decision Time: Pig Penned

Postby TeocTom » January 13th, 2011, 4:41 pm

With the birds hammering back then going silent, I would have to sit tight and fight the urge to move or call.
I would let them make the first move. They know where you are and more than likely they are trying to find you.
If they are not henned up, they are on their way.

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