Decision Time: Condemned to Hill

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: Condemned to Hill

Postby Brian Lovett » May 25th, 2011, 11:16 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.

Condemned to Hill

So there I was, locked in a thrilling battle with a hard-gobbling longbeard on the final day of Wisconsin's spring turkey season.

I'd yelped the gobbler and two hens to within 65 yards only to watch them fade back across a wheat field and into an open hardwood ridge. No problem. After a nifty end-around, I was within 100 yards of the little breeding flock, certain they'd work south along the ridge toward me.

When they didn't, I slipped 25 yards closer and called again. Bingo. However, they still weren't moving. I waited five more minutes and then slipped 20 yards closer. That setup netted another gobble and still no movement. Then I saw why.

The birds were down in a glacial kettle, which is a pothole-like landform created when blocks of ice broke away from the front of a receding glacier. With the terrain on my side, I figured I could easily crawl 10 more yards, get on my knees and then rise up and shoot the gobbler before he could booger. Just then, however, one of the hens yelped, and I heard her scratching while walking to the left -- a path that would take her and the gobbler out of the kettle and into the open 30 steps from my muzzle.

I really wanted to end the season on a high note by killing the gobbler, and slipping up the hill for an ambush seemed like the surest way to at least get a chance. However, the oft-ignored patience angel on my left shoulder reminded me that the birds might pop out anyway.

Oh, and I had one more thought: "Decide now, because they ain't gonna stay there 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: Condemned to Hill

Postby Cut N Run » May 25th, 2011, 12:29 pm

Trust your instinct.  Making too much of a move will only get you busted and lose your chance at that gobbler.  If they wander off out of range, you could still do an end-around on 'em and set up elsewhere.  If you get busted, you might as well go find another gobbler to hunt.  They might head your way anyhow.
That's how I'd play it.
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RE: Decision Time: Condemned to Hill

Postby bstrickler » May 25th, 2011, 2:40 pm

[font=arial]I'd use a dose of patience on him and wait him out. Have the gun barrel ready so when he came into view he could take a ride home with you.


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RE: Decision Time: Condemned to Hill

Postby dewey » May 26th, 2011, 7:21 am

I think I would try to play it just like Jim said. Onto the conclusion now.

"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: Condemned to Hill

Postby TurkeyJohn » May 27th, 2011, 3:10 am

I'd agree with the others, dose of patience would help, worst case scenario is 50/50 which isn't bad odds in the turkey woods.  If they do skirt out, move again to head off, but I'd sit tight and wait,
Hobby.....Is there anything other than turkey hunting??


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RE: Decision Time: Condemned to Hill

Postby Gobblerman » May 29th, 2011, 11:44 am

In most instances, if I think I can improve my position on a gobbler, I will do so.  In this case, if I was certain I could gain ten yards to a position that would put me in a better spot,...and especially if I felt confident it would put me in shooting range, I would likely be doing it. 

However, in this case, it sounds like there is the distinct possibility that this particular ten-yard move might get me busted, so I might hesitate just long enough to see if the birds were actually moving toward me again,...or if they were just milling about in the depression.  The bottom line for me, though, is that if I felt very confident I could make that move without the birds seeing me, I would do it,....carefully, with eyes and ears open for any indication that my movement might be detected. 

At this point, the purist in me might say, "call them those last ten yards,...if you can't, then you deserve to lose this encounter".  However, the turkey killer in me would be saying, "hey, you've already made this an ambush hunt by sneaking in this close,...just get on over there and get the job done".  In this specific scenario, I don't know which side of me would win out for sure, but I suspect that at the end of the season like this, it would be the turkey killer!

One last point to be made here is the acknowledgment that sneaking on gobblers can raise safety concerns.  Anytime I do this, I am always careful to be very aware of everything that is going on around me.  Am I hunting on public lands where there could be other hunters about?  Have I heard any suspicious sounds that could have been made by other people in the woods nearby?  Are there areas of dense vegetation around that could hold other hunters,...especially those that might be doing the exact same thing I am doing?  Succinctly, am I putting myself, or somebody else, in danger by doing what I am doing?  If the answer to any of those questions is "yes", then it is time to re-evaluate.


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