I don't think the question should be old vs new practices (not ethics) as it is hard hunters who put in the time and effort vs those who want to go the easy route. I hunt for the challenge of it (as well as the fun, the communing with nature and my God, friendship and comaraderie, and not the least, the delicious reward at the dinner table). I have put it long hours, year after year, learning how to be a good turkey hunter. I've had some great help from a few personal mentors (thank you Keith P., Bill D., Keith A.) but I've also read almost everything I could get my hands on, spent long days in the field, traveled long distances to hunt birds in new and exciting places, and generally worked my butt off getting to this point. I am more than willing to offer advice and assistance to those who ask for it, and I've made a point of passing on what I know to young hunters who were willing to listen.
but I do not feel obliged to advise, assist, help, coddle, or grant approval to those who just want to go out and kill a bird without learning the skills, practice patience, or even show common courtesy to those with whom they share the field. I could cite many examples but anyone who has hunted long enough either on public land or private land that is shared with non-family members probably knows what I'm talking about.
OK, here's one pet peeve, mentioned by turkey junky at the outset of this thread: pop-up blinds. To me, the most difficult aspect of turkey hunting is being still or moving so slowly that a bird looking at you doesn't bolt right away. I've been busted sooooo many times by birds that came up behind or, more often, to the one side or the other, that I really started to get angry with myself about it. Usually, it was due to mosquitos (thank goodness for ThermaCells), but sometimes it was just me adjusting my aching butt (a friend showed me how to camo paint & tape a low-slung beach chair until the Everest turkey lounger came out, my skinny, meatless rear end can now sit for hours, and that is bona fide turkey tip for you beginners out there). Nevertheless, I never considered putting up a pop-up because to me that is taking the easy way out, the exceptions being if you're taking [u]young[u] children (by 12 a kid should be able to sit still for at least 30-45 minutes), the disabled, and probably bow hunters (although I have seen bow hunters take birds without a tent). Yes, "tent" because that is what a pop-up blind is, it is a room with a view (actually several views if you want). I have been to a famous TX ranch quite a few times and got to know a father/son/grandson group who went there every year. Every year they would tag out, often by the first or second morning of a 2 1/2 day hunt. I marveled at their success until I found out that they always used a tent blind. I ask you, what is the challenge in sitting in a tent with a guide doing all the caling for you using a stuffed hen mount decoy? Heck, the funnest, most exciting part of turkey hunting (and duck, elk, coyote, etc) is calling, getting a response, and having a conversation with a wild critter. My opinion of those northeasterners come to the southwest was knocked down quite a few pegs after that. Not that I am above using a blind, I just prefer to build it myself out of branches, leaves, and palmetto fronds (I live in the south), or whatever cover is available in the area (I've turkey hunted in 9 states - not that many compared to some - making use of what I could find to make blinds).
The love of the challenge is why I generally choose to let jakes walk. To me, shooting a jake is like shooting a yearling forker buck. They are too "stupid" ie, inexperienced, to know better than to come running at every hen call. I have been surrounded by as many as 14 jakes, practically being stepped on, enjoying their curiousity and excitement, but chose not to shoot because I wanted to match my skill against a worthy, experienced opponent - a longbeard. BTW, that particular incident occurred while my then 12-year old nephew and I hugged a giant oak with nothing to separate us from the birds but air and a few blades of gress. My heart was pounding and my nephew was dang near vibrating as these were the first turkeys he'd seen up close, but he held tight, even whispering "why don't you shot one?" without spooking a single jake.
Not that I will never shoot a jake. My home club is very difficult to hunt due to its small size, shape, on site competition and hunting pressure on adjoining property. It is so difficult that those of us who hunt it regularly and have hunted in many other areas consider a jake on our land to be equal in difficulty to mature birds taken in areas with more land to work and more birds to shoot. Nonetheless, I will usually wait until the very end of the season to kill a jake, hoping for a longbeard instead. But by the endof the season, I have patterned those jakes in such a low impact manner that they will still flydown to me on the last morning of their lives. And boy are those young birds tender!
Decoys have come a long way since I began my relatively short big game career (I was primarily a wingshooter until about the time I hit the Big 4-0). Back then, even a so-so looking deek would fool a horny tom. My first longbeard was killed after he sprinted up to my jake/hen setup and faced off with that fake jake. But as time went on, I noticed it was harder and harder to get mature birds to approach a decoy if it had more than just a few seconds to see it before I shot it. So I began to get better looking deeks but their effectiveness didn't last long, so I started setting them, and myself, in spots where the approaching tom couldn't see the deek until he was in shooting range, which often meant I couldn't see him until he saw the deek (unless I was really crafty). Then I encountered some field birds who wouldn't come close enough without seeing that henny penny who was seductively sirening him, so I got an A-Way Skinz and that worked for a while but the Skinz wore a bit getting pulled in and out of my vest, so I've gone back to only using a deek when absolutely necessary. I want that gobbler to come find ME and it usually works. Using decoys is a bit like using drugs: the more you use them, the less effective they become, and you have to escalate to a more potent solution until you OD on deeks. to me, ODing on deeks is carrying 1-3 large lumpy bags filled with beautiful and expensive mounts or facsimiles thereof, putting them 20 yards in front of you and thinking that your calling skill is what killed the tom you carry out, along with those lumpy deek bags. One of my buddies killed a long-spurred 4 year old on opening day with 3 $100+ decoys. Truth is he is an excellent caller of any game, but that morning he was in the hot spot with a hot lonely gobbler roosted all by himself. My dead grandmother could have killed that bird.
And finally, the question that started this rant: do you share your secret spots? That goes back to my first point of earning your spurs, so to speak. If you put in the time in the field to scout, learn the territory, and finally kill a bird on public land (or even private land shared with non-family members), then you have spent a significant portion of your life you can never get back just to take home a wild turkey (or deer, elk, whatever). If some short timer looking for an easy way to get his kill without putting much effort into it comes asking for your advice as to where to go, it seems cheap to just give that info to someone who doesn't really respect the effort it takes to glean it from the woods and critters. I have been on both sides of that equation and I understand why those who know can be reluctant to "spread the wealth".
OK, I've lost my last 2 paragraphs twice by accidentally hitting the wrong button and it is now very late and I'm going to cash in. I had written an example about hunting a WMA and finally getting a bird, and the difficulty in getting hints about where to go, and becoming one of the "club" after I finally killed a bird, but let me just say this in closing. If you work to learn the territory, respect others in the field, and show the experienced guys that you're not just looking for a quick easy kill, you are far more apt to get the advice you seek than if you just set your popup in the middle of the same field somebody else is already hunting.
Scott, I think you are extremely generous to share such hard won information with complete strangers. Maybe there are more birds where you hunt, maybe you have more places to go than most, or maybe you're just a nice guy. Considering how helpful you've been on this forum, I'm going with the latter.
Guess TJ hit a nerve with his post. Don't worry, pal, you are not alone.