Steve Hickoff is the Realtree Turkey Hunting Editor and Blogger. He’s been beaten by more birds than he can remember. Still he kills enough to eat well, and fool with beards, spurs and fans until the next season. Pennsylvania born and raised, Maine is his home base now. A full-time outdoor communicator with a couple university writing degrees, he chases spring gobblers and fall flocks around the country. It's "all turkeys, all the time" on the Realtree Turkey Blog.
Calling Other Turkey Hunters
Calling other turkey hunters to your setup is inevitable if you hunt land open to all hunters. You even stand an occasional chance on posted private land too.
The bird ignored my owling, but I was fairly confident. Far from the road, I’d found the Maine spring gobbler while scouting and considered him mine. In years of hunting there, I'd never run into another hunter. I set up, settled in and waited for the first hint of dawn. Sure enough, that turkey was right where I expected him to be. He gobbled to confirm it. Right before fly-down time, I yelped and he hammered back. Settled in, the morning was off to a good start until . . .
What the —
That’s when I saw a guy alternately crouching and sort of hopping across the uncut field like he was in one of those summer county fair potato sack races they used to have when I was a kid. My heart sunk like an anchor dropped to a muddy pond bottom. I didn’t know whether to be mad or sick to my stomach. He came to a halt, called steadily with a dozen-note yelping sequence on a squeaky box over and over again. I whistled to get his attention. No reaction. Then he stood and moved directly toward me in the near woods. I said, “Hey,” and he kept coming, oblivious to my shout-out. I called and he yelped as if answering me. This was getting less safe by the second.
Right around then on the edge of my hearing I heard another gobble to the south, away from my bird — um, our gobbler. I stood, moved steadily in the direction of the new turkey, away from the current action and hoped the potato-sack racer would settle for the exchange.
My heartbeat raced a bit after the hustle along the ridge. I listened for turkey talk. Sure enough, a bird gobbled. I yelped and he gobbled back. I sat down. It got quiet, I softly yelped again and the birds started to pitch down and — heads up — walk in my direction. The turkey I wanted was to the rear and others would come in a little ahead of it. So I’d have to wait.
I’d about forgotten the first hunt of the morning when the birds suddenly looked east: necks and heads like periscopes, they turned and ran away, alarm putting. Sure enough, here came the guy, calling as he walked. And then he turned and walked toward me while calling incessantly. I didn’t dare move, say “hey,” or make a turkey sound now. The guy cruised to my left, no more than 20 steps away and walked past, calling as he strolled. It was the craziest calling strategy I may have ever witnessed. Nonstop yelping on a squeaky box. Maybe they'd done that at the store where he bought it . . .
I didn't move. He called again at maybe 50 yards behind me. It’s then I got up, quickly packed my gear and walked the steady mile or so out of there to my truck. Later that morning I killed a nice gobbler. It all worked out for the best. I’d answered the “should I stay or should I go?” question by default. Safety insisted on it and we’ve all read safe turkey hunting tips.
One line item in the state’s turkey hunter online survey asked if other hunters had affected my ability to hunt effectively and I answered yes. (Then felt like a first-class whiner.) What would you have done in the same situation? Given the guy an earful? Stayed and hunted the original spot? Do as I did? Leave the area? It is what it is, right?
Ever find yourself calling other turkey hunters to your setup? Share your story below.