The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


April 21, 2013

Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Bettering the boss



However, these dominant birds also have a few weaknesses that we can exploit. First, they do not particularly enjoy a situation in which a hen sounds ready to breed but shows no interest in coming to them.

A team of two hunters, or one very good woodsman with a four-leaf clover in his pocket, can sometimes exploit this weakness. If you get the old bird interested in your calls, but he refuses to approach, one hunter, staying out of sight, can slip away and call as he vacates the area. Do not call aggressively. The calls should be subtle feeding and “contented hen” calls. Calling with an “I’ll see you later — maybe” attitude sums it up best.

The other hunter — the shooter — stays in the last permanent calling position and is stone still, using only his eyes to search for the gobbler. If the gobbler sounds off a couple of times and hushes or if he just gets quiet, odds are good that the shooter will see the gobbler in short order. Typically, the bird approaches the last place the “hen” called, which should put him in shooting range.

The golden rule

Do unto him before he can do unto you. I know that he will vacate the area in a heartbeat if anything seems out of place. Therefore, the closer this bird gets to my position, the less likely I am to take him. Closer is not better. Long before he slips into view, have your kill zone defined and then take the first good shot you have. Not recommending a marginal shot, but at the yardage where you are assured of a clean harvest with the particular gun used. If you don’t know that range, then you should not be in the turkey woods anyway.

The first step this gobbler takes that puts him within your “clean shot” zone should be the turkey’s last step. Every second you wait after that dramatically decreases the chances of taking that bird. Because the cover and terrain of each setup varies, the first clean shot chance may be as close as 15 yards. But be prepared to finish the job at 35 yards, if you can.

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