John's Journal...

What to Do When Three Turkeys Gobble

:When “Stuff” Happens

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Most of us when we hear a turkey gobble immediately make a beeline to that turkey. We never stop to wait and listen to see if an area has any other gobbling turkeys in it. Remember, all turkeys don't gobble at the same time every morning. On many a morning, if I go to the first turkey that gobbles, I'll spook the tom closest to me because he hasn't gobbled yet. But what do you do when you hear three or more turkeys gobble? I've learned to plan my morning hunt instead of chasing the first turkey that gobbles. Here's how.

“Stuff” usually happens between the time I leave the spot where I've heard the turkeys and I reach the place where I want to call a turkey, especially when I'm hunting unfamiliar territory. For instance, once when I hunted Merriam’s turkeys in the Northwest one year during the spring when the trees had all their leaves on, I heard three turkeys gobble. I marked the locations of all three birds and went to the closest tom, about 1/4-mile away. However, when I reached the site from where I thought I should call the turkey, I found a deep canyon separating me from the tom. I used my binoculars aClick to enlargend spotted the turkey gobbling on the other side of the canyon on the edge of an open field. But I couldn't come up with any way I could reach that bird without a helicopter.

Another time when I hunted in a south Alabama swamp, the closest gobbler screamed as though he had his tail on-fire. In my mind, I already had this turkey shot, carried out of the woods and cooked. When I moved closer to the tom, I saw he actually had called from across a river too deep for me to wade and too far to swim to the other side. Once I listened to a turkey gobbling just above me in Missouri. I'd already heard numbers of turkeys gobbling that morning and had marked several of them on my GPS. But this bird gobbled so loud and so much that I knew I could take him quickly and easily. I climbed up a mountain and belly-crawled to within 50 yards of the still-gobbling turkey. I peeped up over a log to put an eyeball on that gobbler and spotted a beautiful tom in full strut, gobbling his brains out, inside a wire fence 30 yards from a landowner's back door. I quickly decided to go to some of the other turkeys I'd pinpointed and crawled away sheepishly.Click to enlarge

On a hunt a couple of years ago, I heard three toms all gobbling from the same spot. I marked the direction and the distance to the birds and moved toward them. I then set up and started calling. The turkeys came to me like I had them on a kite string. However, then I spotted the 50 yards of clear woods and a creek between me and those toms. The turkeys wouldn't cross the creek, and I couldn't move through those open woods without the turkeys seeing me. I let the turkeys walk off, made a large circle around them, got behind and above them and called to them. Once again the three birds came to me straightaway, and this time I bagged a nice longbeard. I'd marked three turkeys on my GPS one season and chose to go to the second gobbler because I felt I could get close to him before I had to call. This second gobbler had stayed in an open hardwood bottom. But a thicket stood between me and the bird. I knew I could go to the thicket, sneak through the thicket, set up just on the edge of the thicket and call the bird to me.

I snuck through the thicket as quietly as a church mouse on Sunday morning. Suddenly, Click to enlargethe thicket exploded, and deer ran in all directions. The turkey flew off the limb and probably out of the county. If I hadn't had two other toms marked to hunt that morning, I’d have had no luck at all. I returned to the spot where I'd heard all three turkeys gobble at first light and went after the third turkey. Because of his distance from me, I knew the deer wouldn't have spooked him. After a long hike, I set up on turkey No. 3, and at 10:00 a.m. finally took turkey No. 3 home to dinner with me. I don't know about your hunting, but rarely can I walk up to a spot where I hear a turkey gobbling, sit down, yelp three times, have the turkey come in within 15 minutes, shoot the bird and then go home. Most of the time, I'll have to go after the second or the third gobbler because for some reason the first gobbler has gotten spooked, has left with a hen, has had another gobbler run him off or stays in an area I can't reach for some reason. Too, remember that the most-dominant gobbler in a region usually will gobble the most and the loudest and often have hens with him when you reach him. The subordinate gobblers gobble the least and probably won't have hens with them, and you'll more likely to take them.

Tomorrow: Gobblers to Give Away and Gobblers to Keep

Check back each day this week for more about "What to Do When Three Turkeys Gobble "

Day 1: GPS to Success
Day 2: When “Stuff” Happens
Day 3: Gobblers to Give Away and Gobblers to Keep
Day 4: Why to Choose the Best Turkey Instead of the Closest Turkey
Day 5: How to Nail Down the Toms Before You Leave


Entry 449, Day 2