The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

April 21, 2013

Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Bettering the boss

The ultimate challenge in the turkey woods is fooling that old boss gobbler who is the baron of his realm.

Understanding how he rules his roost is the secret to bagging this bird!

Wild turkey gobblers may be basically created equal at birth, give or take a few genetic characteristics, but the “equal” part of that statement changes dramatically as they get older.

The older and more dominant the gobbler, the harder it is to end the day with him slung over your shoulder.

In fact, many of the basic turkey hunting rules that beginning hunters learn from magazines, books, from folks who actually hunt turkeys or from their own hunting experiences provide insightful and factual information on hunting “average” gobblers — birds that are 2 years old.

Learning these tactics is a process that all gobbler chasers must work through.

Another zone

But the truth is there’s often more to the sport than simple recipes or formulas for success. Each and every gobbler is different and may require adjustments to the basic ground rules. However, whether by choice or circumstance you take on the older, dominant gobblers in the area, you’ve entered another zone of competition where the rules that you’ve learned suddenly may not apply.

Ghosts of the spring

Any bird has the occasion to whip you soundly, but it is the 3-year-old and older birds that define the mystic that is associated with longbeards. I have reached the conclusion that these older gobblers may really have the ability to vanish from the face of the earth and move about as ghosts. These old birds are the ones that have necks mounted on swivels so they can see 360 degrees. Sometimes I think they can even see through trees and over ridge tops.

These old gobblers are the most cautious animals in the woods. While they may strut majestically in the middle of an open field and honor your calling with frequent gobbles and even double gobbles, they have learned the ways of their would-be assassins. Letting you know they’re there and letting you harvest them are two different things. Taking advantage of that difference is how these birds got to be old.

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