Decision Time: Little Dreamer and the Doomsday Machine

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: Little Dreamer and the Doomsday Machine

Postby Brian Lovett » March 9th, 2011, 9:00 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.

Little Dreamer and the Doomsday Machine

The gobbler lived in a small chunk of woods bordering a dense Alabama swamp. Everyone knew about him, yet no one wanted to hunt him. The bird was evil.

But my friend and I were on the final day of our Alabama trip, so we had nothing to lose. We'd each killed birds earlier that week, so a last stab at the bad turkey seemed like a fun idea. And if we killed the gobbler, we'd be camp heroes.

The longbeard gobbled sparingly on the roost but really lit it up after he was on the ground. In fact, the turkey gobbled more than 100 times, honoring our yelps and clucks like a 2-year-old that had never heard a call. However, he didn't budge.

"I'm going to yelp at him one more time and then shut up," my friend said.

And he did. The turkey gobbled, and then my buddy put his diaphragm call in his shirt pocket and fell asleep. The ploy seemed to work, however, as the longbeard continued gobbling for about five minutes. Then, the bird went quiet.

"He's going to slip in for a look or disappear forever," I thought.

Sure enough, a half-hour later, I caught movement to my right. The gobbler eased quietly through the pines, stepped onto a logging road and searched intently for the source of the calling. My shotgun sights were directly on his wattles.

But that was the problem. The bird was in the open with his neck stretched high. However, he was at the very edge of range or perhaps beyond it, and I was using an unfamiliar shotgun from the gun company that had sponsored our hunt.

I had roughly one second to decide whether to fire and hope for the best or let the evil gobbler slip away forever.

What would you have done? Post your decision below.

Click here for Lovett's decision.

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Cut N Run
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RE: Decision Time: Little Dreamer and the Doomsday Machine

Postby Cut N Run » March 9th, 2011, 9:27 am

A questionable shot is not the one I'd want to take, especially with an unfamiliar gun. One of the worst feelings in the world is to hit a turkey and not get him. They are tough birds and he might survive...on the other hand, after a bad shot he may be forced to suffer the rest of however many days he has left & that's just not right.

With one gobbler already tagged, I'd probably let him pass in hopes that he might respond to minimal calling a little after he's gone by & circle back. It's not a great chance, but it's a better option than wounding and losing him.

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RE: Decision Time: Little Dreamer and the Doomsday Machine

Postby Gobblerman » March 10th, 2011, 4:17 am

This is one of the hardest decisions every turkey hunter must make at times in their "careers".   Everybody should have a knowledge of how far they can shoot at birds with the guns they regularly use.  In this case, that uncertainty should create an uneasy feeling about pulling the trigger.  However, I would bet there is not one experienced turkey hunter that has not shot at a gobbler in a similar situation at some point in their lives.   There is always a "gray area" in range estimation and killing power for each and every one of us.  Admittedly, it takes much personal discipline not to pop one off in those situations....and every one of those situations presents circumstances that might well affect our final decision to shoot or not to shoot.
I don't know what you did here, and I certainly won't second-guess whatever decision was made.  From my personal perspective, you already won this particular game just by getting that bird to come take a look at all.  The shot is irrelevant at this point.  It would be nice to walk back into camp with that gobbler slung over your shoulder, but does it really matter,...and was it worth the risk?

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RE: Decision Time: Little Dreamer and the Doomsday Machine

Postby dewey » March 10th, 2011, 5:16 am

If I were in that situation I would have had my rangefinder out and figure out distances to trees and other landmarks before the turkey came in so that way I know at "that tree" he is dead but the one beyond that he is going to live another day. Like you said not knowing that guns range I think I would bit my tongue off and not fire.

"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." --Mahatma Gandhi

"Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat."--F. Scott Fitzgerald, American writer


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RE: Decision Time: Little Dreamer and the Doomsday Machine

Postby TRapper » March 27th, 2011, 8:32 am

that is a tough decision, good decision though on shutting up and letting that lone tom come look for you, only thing you could do is maybe turn your head and cluck softly making that turkey think you are farther away than he thought and he may come another 5 to 10 feet closer and help you be more confident with your shooting decision
Joshua "TRapper" Jones
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