The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


April 21, 2013

Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Bettering the boss


Sneak peek

As noted earlier, other gobblers sometimes sneak in while you’re working a boss gobbler. Occasionally the boss comes in for a look as well, but he may be prone to do so silently. For that reason, if he has been occasionally gobbling at your calls but not approaching, then suddenly quits responding, odds are he may be coming in for a look.

Unlike younger birds, however, this old guy may only come in close enough to peek around a bush or tree. He expects to see a hen standing where you are sitting. If instead he spots you sitting there scratching your head, he disappears, and you will likely never know the bird was there.

This situation is one where a decoy can work for you. A standard jake-on-the-hen setup sometimes causes an old gobbler to zoom in on a dead run, intent on whipping the tar out of the fake jake. Other times, just seeing a realistic looking hen decoy is enough to tempt him to continue in for a closer inspection.

Decoy placement

Be careful about how you set up your decoy or decoys. Try to put the decoy in a position such that an approaching gobbler will be within range of you when he first sees the decoy. I’ve had a gobbler see the decoy, be completely fooled, but his dominant nature caused him to go into full strut and walk back and forth just out of range for an hour before turning and leaving, never offering a shot.

When considering your setup, select one that offers a wide field of vision. An old gobbler may circle you as he comes in, so prepare for that possibility when you make your original setup.

Try shuttin’ up

I love calling to turkeys, but sometimes the most deadly lure is being silent. At times it appears that a tom’s curiosity gets the best of him. For example, if you get an active and repeated response from a gobbler and then you shut up, the gobbler occasionally just has to come see if the hen really had the audacity to leave while in the midst of conversation. Although I prefer to be talking to the turkey, silence can also be woodsman skill.

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