3 Ways to Make a Gobbler Do What You Want

By author of Turkey Blog with Steve Hickoff

Sometimes these simple tactics can convince a turkey to slip into shooting range

Turkeys don’t always do what we want. That’s the challenge — and yes, the fun of it. Don’t be afraid to mix up your approach if that bird isn’t buying what you’re selling.

Sometimes these simple tactics can convince a turkey to slip into shooting range. Image by Russell Graves

1. You Want the Gobbler to Fly Down

Last dusk’s roosted longbeard — the one you excitedly lost sleep about — might be waiting for the talkative daybreak hen you’ve been imitating with your tree calling (soft clucking and yelping while birds are still roosted) to fly down and walk to his roost tree. So the gobbler waits, struts on the limb, and waits some more.

Solution: Shut up. If terrain conceals you, pull out your bag of tricks. Rake leaves to sound like a walking or feeding turkey, but don’t call. The gobbler might think the other turkey is on the ground. And shut up some more, ears listening for your gobbler to fly down.

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2. You Want the Gobbler to Come to You

Okay, your bird is on the ground and strutting. Pfft, dummmm, it’s a beautiful thing to hear. This strutter’s actions — puffed up twice his usual size, gobbles ringing through the woods — say, “Hey, I’m right here, come on over.” That tom is hung up, expecting you (the yelping hen) to come to him.

Solution: Wait it out. The bird might come in silently. Listen for more drumming, maybe footsteps in the leaves. Scan the woods to see if a turkey is watching your position. If he gobbles again, fixing his exact location, make your next move. Slowly walk in the other direction, softly yelping as you do. Yep, move away. Then set up, still as a stone. The gobbler might break strut and come running. He also might resume operations right where you had been sitting. It’s a chess match now.

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3. You Want the Henned-Up Gobbler to Be Alone

You had the gobbler’s position fixed on the roost. And then on the ground. But now, several hens have approached and joined him. Those birds are milling about, feeding, as the gobbler struts and shadows their every move. Now’s your chance.

Solution: Depending on the time of year, you can wait until those hens peel off and begin nesting, leaving the gobbler all alone — assuming someone else doesn’t get to it first. Or you can use terrain to sneak into position and get ahead of them, hoping they’ll slip into range. Or, for a more direct tactic, break up the party. Scatter them.

Ideally, the gobbler will run and fly in one direction, and the hens will race off in another. After, let the woods settle. If a hen begins to yelp, and the gobbler answers, reposition to get between both birds. If just the tom sounds off, slip toward it, set up, and call that turkey in.

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