Decision Time: Case of the Departing Drummer

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: Case of the Departing Drummer

Postby Brian Lovett » June 15th, 2011, 11:37 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.

Case of the Departing Drummer

I've entangled myself in some pretty dumb predicaments through the years. Of course, as I get older, it stands to reason that I'd want to share with the next generation how to stumble into similarly ridiculous situations.

Wisconsin's 2004 youth season started out great. A gobbler ripped it from a lone pasture oak, and then flew down and started sprinting up the woods edge toward us. He paused long enough at the corner of the field to gobble directly at us and then resumed his death run. Man, this was awesome. I was going to have a smoking-hot longbeard in front of my young hunter before the sun was up.

But apparently, the gobbler had not seen many turkey videos or read Turkey & Turkey Hunting. Halfway into his headlong charge toward our decoys, he ducked into the woods and out of sight. What? Why had he done that when he was seconds away from committing suicide? And more important, where had he gone?

Seconds later, a distinct "pfft-duuum" about 10 yards behind us in the brush answered that question.

I could have killed the longbeard with my pocket knife, but that wasn't the point. I was in charge of a teen-ager who'd never pointed a gun at a living thing, let alone tried to spin around a tree and get the drop on a point-blank gobbler.

Crap. If I told my young friend to ease around the tree and shoot, the odds of failure were high. However, if we didn't act, the bird would likely leave -- and I didn't want the kid's first turkey hunt to be a head-slapping, heart-breaking stunner.

What would you have done? Post your decision below.

Click here for Lovett's decision.

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RE: Decision Time: Case of the Departing Drummer

Postby Cut N Run » June 15th, 2011, 4:08 pm

You're there to teach a youngster about hunting turkeys, not just shooting one.  Even though taking a gobbler is the ultimate goal, your young hunter would probably learn more from having to be patient and not spooking that bird off.  Sometimes the hardest part of turkey hunting is coming close but not succeeding. 
You can't tell that the gobbler might not just come back in on your decoys anyway.  Just because he leaves the first time doesn't mean he can't be sweet talked into a second chance.  I've had hot gobblers come in close (or behind me) spitting & drumming and leave when they didn't see the hen they'd heard (when I was not using decoys) and I was able to call them back.  On other hunts, I've also had hot gobblers leave, only to be called back to the decoys where they were in range and were taken.
The scenario says it is also early in the day, who's to say that there might not be another workable gobbler in that area.  It is worth being patient to find out.
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RE: Decision Time: Case of the Departing Drummer

Postby Bobbyparks » June 17th, 2011, 12:31 am

I think I'm just sitting tight on this've got inexperience sitting next tp you so moving on the bird is not only not going to work but a lesson in patience and hunting is in order.

Seems to me your only hope is for the goblbler to end up in front of your decoys and therefore your hunters barrel.

Otherwise the bird walks and you explain to the youth why this needed to play out like it did.
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RE: Decision Time: Case of the Departing Drummer

Postby dewey » June 17th, 2011, 2:49 am

I would agree with Jim and Bobby and have the youngster sit still. Teach him the all important patience lesson.

"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: Case of the Departing Drummer

Postby STEROIDCHICKEN » June 23rd, 2011, 3:31 am

I would have to agree with the other guys........patience is a skill that can be learned and it kills more birds than any other tactic. The bird could very well be called back in beings as hot as you have stated.
Sure, you could try and swing on the bird but being an in-experienced hunter, I would choose not to advise it. The only other option rather than swinging is to slowly ease the gun around for a shot.
Teaching a young hunter patience will pay off in the long run...the kill is not always the lesson learned.
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RE: Decision Time: Case of the Departing Drummer

Postby TeocTom » July 18th, 2011, 7:30 am

I agree with Mr. Parks.......
Patience is definatley a virtue, and it goes without saying that in hunting anything patience pays off.
Also, we have the all important issue of safety, and having this youth charged up with adrenaline and trying to make a move on the bird may not be the best of choices.
That gobbler is going to come around.......
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