Been busted? Join the club. Every turkey hunter will find himself in that situation at some point. We asked world-champion caller Steve Stoltz what he does when a gobbler catches him by surprise. Here’s his response.
“If a turkey comes in and catches you with your gun down, don’t panic. Turkeys don’t see slow, gradual, easy movement. I’ve drawn my bow with them looking right at me, but I’ve done so at a slow, steady pace. Of course, I’d rather see the turkey go into strut or walk behind a tree so I could draw or move. However, you can still kill a bird that catches you by surprise.
“Keeping an eye on the turkey, start moving your gun slowly and gradually toward him. Make sure it’s at a steady, super-slow-motion pace, because if they see quick movement, they’re going to take off. As long as it’s not sharp movement, they’ll tolerate it a bit. Even if they see you move slowly, it puts them on soft alert as opposed to full-bore alert. And then, at least your chances are better if your shotgun is three-fourths of the way to a turkey and he does take off for some reason. Really, you can get the gun up on them nine out of 10 times.
“Always watch where they’re going. You can move your gun a hair quicker if they go behind a tree. But remember, from their angle, they can see better around that tree than you can. If the tree is closer to them, it obscures their vision more. If it’s closer to you, they can see you better.
“You’re better off trying to move on the turkey and kill him while he’s in range. If the turkey moves off, you have to get him fired up again. Further, you have to get him worked up when he’s in cool-down vs. red-hot mode. It can be done, but it’s the exception rather than the rule.”