Decision Time: The Fecund Dilemma

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: The Fecund Dilemma

Postby Brian Lovett » January 25th, 2011, 4:27 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.

The Fecund Dilemma

Hunting had been tough. When a steady downpour greeted us the final morning of Wisconsin's turkey season, it looked tougher.

It's not that birds hadn't been responding, mind you. In that corner of the world, however, there seemed to be a shortage of 2-year-olds, a bumper crop of jakes and the usual smattering of evil old turkeys. Many of the responsive turkeys we'd struck had turned out to be shortbeards, and we were having difficulty working mature gobblers.

Nonetheless, Matt Egge and I trudged through a flooded creek bottom, topped a hill by a rain-soaked pasture and ran a box call. A gobble floated back through the damp air. Analysis followed.

"Sounded kind of like a jake," I said.

"Could be, but it seemed like a full-roll gobble," Egge responded.

"Well, let's find out," I said.

We set up in a small woodlot and called again. Nothing. Then, I saw two dark forms enter the woods and run toward us. They were certainly male turkeys, but I wasn't sure of their age. Within seconds, they were standing 10 steps away, but the late-season foliage was so dense that it hid their breasts and beards. One turkey had the bright red head and neck of a jake, and the other wore the white softball noggin of a gobbler. Neither strutted.

Crap. I didn't want to shoot a jake by mistake, but if I waited much longer, the birds would surely turn and walk away. Was I letting a sure kill slip from my fingers?

What would you have done? Post your decision below.

Click here for Lovett's decision.

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RE: Decision Time: The Fecund Dilemma

Postby dewey » January 25th, 2011, 6:02 am

Personally I would wait to see if I can get a better glimpse of the birds and since they were so close you can't risk calling or you would be busted for sure. If I was with someone that was OK with a jake then I would say fire but I am past the point of harvesting jakes so I would wait them out. Eventually they would have to move enough for you to get a glimpse.

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RE: Decision Time: The Fecund Dilemma

Postby kenturkey89 » January 25th, 2011, 7:29 am

I hang my hat on being a professional jake's the big boys that always get the best of me. Every year it always seems that I'll have a nice bird or two located and as soon as I let out a little turkey music, I get a little shortbeard sneaking in to see what's going on. Not that I have a problem with shooting Jakes, it's just that I've harvested my fair share of Jakes and I'm trying to catch up with some better birds.

In the situation you presented, I would definitely take my chances and wait on those birds to reveal themselves. Even if I know they're males, I still like to know what it is exactly that I'm shooting. Going by what you've said, if I heard only one gobble and had them come in without strutting, I would have to assume they're a Jake. It could, however, be a two year old but I would have to wait to find out!

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RE: Decision Time: The Fecund Dilemma

Postby Bobbyparks » January 25th, 2011, 8:46 am

I know my luck:

If I shot without seeing the 'd be a jake

If I shot at 10 yards...I'd miss

I'd wait and get a better look at let him put more yardage between us if possible
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RE: Decision Time: The Fecund Dilemma

Postby TeocTom » January 25th, 2011, 4:54 pm

Here in MS Jakes are not legal. With that being said I better get a better visual on the length of that beard if possible.
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RE: Decision Time: The Fecund Dilemma

Postby WillowRidgeCalls » January 25th, 2011, 6:08 pm

This is a tough decision, and if I haven't filled anyother of my tags yet that year it would be tougher yet. If I had to make a choise and couldn't see their beards at 10 steps, letting them walk a bit farther wouldn't help much if the foliage is that thick. With that being said I would choose the white headed bird, because of him showing his dominance over the other bird, so it may be a 2 year old bird?

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RE: Decision Time: The Fecund Dilemma

Postby kygobbler » January 25th, 2011, 9:09 pm

To me it's not that hard of a decision. It all depends on what type of hunter you are. If you are hunting for meat, I say go ahead and shoot the one with the white head. If you are hunting for beards, then just hold up and see if one of them has a long beard. So my choice is to shoot the one with the white head while you have a chance, because if the cover is as thick as you said there might be something in there that could spook them or on the other hand you might never get a clear view and are left second guessing.
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RE: Decision Time: The Fecund Dilemma

Postby Matt Raymond » January 25th, 2011, 10:15 pm

I'd go for the one with the White head. You saw two birds but only heard one gobble. Most times when I've called in multiple Jakes they've both gobbled...there wasn't a dominant bird. Once one gobbled, it set off a chain reaction in the group. I would say that the gobble you heard came from the dominant, more mature White headed bird, and the other one with the Red head was a Jake along for the ride.


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