John's Journal...

How to Successfully Set Up on Turkeys

Day 5: How to Set-Up on the Hung Up-Gobbler and How to Hunt Two on One Tom

Editor’s Note: Not knowing the typical set-up for hunting turkeys is one of the problems that a novice hunter has. He attempts to get too close to the turkey, and the result is that the bird spots the hunter and moves-out of that region well before the hunter even tries to call to him. Most often this happens when a turkey gobbles in the direction of a hunter, turns-around on the limb, faces the opposite direction and gobbles away from the hunter. The bird then sounds farther away than he actually is. A good rule of thumb is to always set-up farther away from the bird than you think you should.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewWhat should you do if a longbeard is standing 70 yards in front of you strutting, drumming and doing everything a wild turkey gobbler is supposed to do? First, you need to understand why a turkey hangs-up out of shotgun range. Perhaps the hunter has called too much, and the gobbler thinks that, “If that hen’s so excited about mating, she ought to come to me when she hears me drum. I’m not going any closer to her.” Another possibility is that you’re calling from a location where the tom previously has been shot at or attacked by a predator. Or, perhaps the turkey has spotted something, like movement when you’ve sat down, the glint off the gun’s barrel or a camo pattern that doesn’t match the woods. A gobbler also knows that when he starts to strut, he should be able to see the hen. For some reason, the tom has held-up out of gun range. Try these two techniques to attempt to get close enough for a shot.

  • Call to the bird with soft clucks and purrs with a different call – perhaps try a slate call rather than the mouth diaphragm. The tom, however, still may refuse to move closer. Probably the best tactic to use is to quit calling and allow the bird to settle down. Hopefully, he’ll assume that the hen has left him and walk away. Once the tom is well out of sight, circle the bird, and try to set-up a calling position parallel to the direction you think the turkey has gone. Change calls, and begin calling very softly. Since the gobbler’s already fired-up, call very little.
  • Click for Larger ViewSet-up closer to or actually in the area where the gobbler has been strutting previously, the next time you hunt him, if he’s hung-up just out of range before and then walked off. Since the tom thinks that the area is safe, even with a hunter calling from there, he may come-in without any problem.

How to Set-Up Two Hunters on One Tom:

One of the best reasons to hunt with a partner is so you can enjoy the natural camaraderie that results when two people pit their skills against one gobbler. For obvious safety reasons, be sure to keep visual contact with each other.

  • The Beginner: Something magical happens to the beginner when he sees his first strutting bird. The result, at times, is that sanity and rationality take a vacation. For that reason, the experienced hunter needs to be in complete control. Many like to sit against a tree and have the novice sit between their legs. This way, the two hunters can communicate easily. The experienced hunter simply can whisper or tap the beginner to inform him of the distance to the bird and when to shoot.
  • Click for Larger ViewShooter Out Front: If you’re hunting with a veteran hunter who’s planning to shoot while you call, one option is to put him 15-20 yards in front of you. He already knows what to look for and when to shoot - you won’t have to tell him the distance. Your job will be to concentrate on calling the bird. Because the tom expects the hen to be another 20-yards away, he’ll be less wary as he passes the veteran hunter in search of the hen. Also, if the tom hangs up 50 yards in front of you, your partner still may be close enough for a shot.
  • Side by Side: One technique favored by some experienced hunting partners is to hunt side by side. Both hunters sit with their backs to the same tree. They sit close enough so they can whisper back and forth as a turkey comes near. Whichever side the turkey comes in on, that hunter gets the shot.

To get these Kindle books by John E. Phillips, including: “The Turkey Hunter's Bible,” click here; “PhD Gobblers;” click here; and “Turkey Hunting Tactics,” click here, or go to, type in the names of the books, and download them to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.

About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (AMA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Successfully Set Up on Turkeys"

Day 1: Know a Turkey’s Routine and Don’t Make Mistakes
Day 2: More Mistakes Turkey Hunters Make
Day 3: How to Set Up on Gobblers with Hens and Call-Shy Walking and Talking Turkeys
Day 4: How to Set-Up on Gobblers across Water or Gobblers Strutting in the Field
Day 5: How to Set-Up on the Hung Up-Gobbler and How to Hunt Two on One Tom

ALL CONTENT PROTECTED UNDER THE DIGITAL MILLENIUM COPYRIGHT ACT. Content theft, either printed or electronic is a federal offense.


Entry 709, Day 5