Decision Time: People of the South Wind

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: People of the South Wind

Postby Brian Lovett » January 4th, 2012, 4:46 pm

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.

People of the South Wind

You’ve had that feeling. It might strike as you pass a cop on a busy freeway or when you suddenly come face to face with someone you’re trying to avoid. It’s that uneasy rush of dread and panic that signals something is amiss.

When you get that feeling immediately before a turkey hunt, it’s not a good omen. But there I was, “Spidey sense” tingling, about to embark on a Kansas turkey trek. Oh, the property we could hunt looked good, and I knew Kansas was packed with gobblers. But our guide for the day was a bit … different, and he insisted that five of us squeeze into a truck and drive around looking for turkeys.

We saw some birds — mostly several hundred yards away in massive ag fields — but our guide didn’t want to leave the truck. By 10 a.m., someone finally insisted that we find a likely area and just hunt. By then, the wind was blowing at about 30 mph.

Our guide pulled the truck next to a river bottom, and we ran some calls right at the parking area. Unbelievably, a bird hammered back about 60 yards away. My friends and I immediately hit the dirt and tried to think of a plan.

Ha! Plan? What plan? We belly-crawled to a small tree and tried to look like rocks. Seconds later, I glimpsed a white head criss-crossing in and out of a small opening in the timber. The bird was undoubtedly nervous that it couldn’t see a hen and wouldn’t stick around long.

Considering the wind and tight cover, a shot would be tricky. I wasn’t about to take any risky shots, but I didn’t know if the turkey would give me anything else. It might be best to let the gobbler wander off and then circle around to him in the river bottom. However, I feared that my daffy guide might have another “strategy,” and we might never see the longbeard again.

Tick tock.

What would you have done? Post your decision below.

Click here for Lovett's decision.

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Re: Decision Time: People of the South Wind

Postby Gobblerman » January 6th, 2012, 9:46 am

Obvious Rule #1: If you are uncertain about a shot, do not take it,....ever! Of course, that is easy to say when a hunter is not put in the position of deciding on the spur of the moment whether a shot is risky or not. I would bet most of us that have hunted turkeys for any length of time can recall shots taken that, in hindsight, we should have had the sense not to risk. The best you can do is try to control your emotions of the moment and make a reasonable assessment of whether you should shoot or not. The possibility of killing a gobbler is never worth the risk of wounding one instead. ....But, once again,...that's easy to say here and now.

Now, back to the scenario, although I would not consider that situation much of a "turkey hunt", if the gobbler approached within reasonable distance, gave me a clear shot at it's head and neck, and I felt like I had legitimately called him to the gun, I would most likely take the shot, or even more likely, encourage my partner to do so. Been there,... done that.

I think a more important lesson, perhaps, in this case, is for all of us that go on turkey hunts with strangers, whether they be guides or just casual acquaintances, to make sure beforehand to discuss with those individuals what we expect in our turkey hunts. I went through the very same scenario with my one and only guided hunt, and it will not happen again. It was two days of misery with an unwanted body in the way, ruining the hunt and any slim chance of actually killing a gobbler on that hunt. Never assume that a turkey "guide" really knows anything about hunting turkeys. Tell them what you expect on your hunt, and if they cannot provide it, go elsewhere.

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Re: Decision Time: People of the South Wind

Postby maineute » January 6th, 2012, 8:48 pm

Get back in the truck and ask for your money back. If a guides idea of guiding a hunt is to drive around looking at birds he forgot the hunting part. How can one guide guide for 4 people at once?

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