The Sportsman’s World: Don’t That Beat All

By Leon Archer

I’ve hunted turkeys sort of lackadaisically for the past five or six years now.

I don’t much care to get up two hours before first light, and I usually have better things to do than go out and roost turkeys. 

I suppose if I were a lot younger I might get into the tougher, sleep depriving, full spectrum turkey hunting routine, but then again, maybe not. Probably it’s because I don’t feel driven to get a wild turkey.

When I began hunting them, I did all the things other hunters told me I had to do to be successful. I learned how to use the calls. I bought a couple decoys.

I scouted the areas I wanted to hunt. I roosted a few birds. I got up long before the cock crowed and dragged myself into the woods, clothed in camo from head to toe.

I sat, and sat, and sat, and sometimes everything came together and I shot a nice tom; however, more often than not, I heard birds, even saw birds, but they would head in a contrary direction, leaving me to enjoy the morning on my own.

I did learn to “run and gun” when turkeys were on the move away from me. It was a successful tactic for me on occasion.

It’s sort of neat if you are familiar with the lay of the land and don’t mind hustling around to get into position where the bird may well walk into an ambush that you’ve set up. It also can get the blood flowing and warm a person up on those really frosty mornings.

It’s a method better used where you are alone in the area. Other hunters may not appreciate you traipsing through the woods around them.

I thought I had pretty much seen everything, but this year I ran into something new in the world of turkey hunting. I think it is something a hunter would not want to use in the presence of other hunters, but if he had access to private land sans other hunters, I could be a hoot.

The tactic requires a decoy in full strut to be used as a cover between the bird and the hunter as he moves towards the gobbler. It seems to be especially successful when the tom is with some hens.

The turkey, apparently believing he has a challenger, stands his ground as the hunter approaches into shooting range. It actually works, but I don’t believe I am ever going to try employing it. Anyone who thinks they might give it a go, had better be very sure there are no other hunters nearby. Seems a bit dangerous to me.

I didn’t get a turkey this year. I didn’t try any run and gun moves, and I only got up in the wee hours of the morning once.

I wasn’t back in the state until the season was half over, and most of the birds were more than a little bit cautious. Maybe I would have been more successful if I had popped out of bed earlier more often or been a little more aggressive, but I shoot most of my turkeys these days after 7 a.m. and it is already light when I walk into the area I’m hunting.

I did hear some birds, and I saw one tom, but he was on posted property and absolutely refused to come my way though I had hopes all morning. I saw more hens and one morning I had one wander around me for more than 15 minutes, but even she never lured a tom my way.

I saw plenty of deer and one little fawn while listening to the grouse drumming and the song birds chirping. The woods and fields are a busy, noisy place in the spring, and it’s always great to be out there even if I don’t get a turkey.

Bass season opens in two weeks. They are a lot easier than turkeys to bring home. Sure do hope your spring is going well, mine is.

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