Hung-up gobbler won't come to your calls? It might be a jake or "jerk" as one of my longtime turkey buds calls 'em. Those jerks are sometimes tougher than long-spurred toms, especially in pressured areas.
I’ve heard this comment many times in turkey camp: “Must have been that old gobbler you were working. We’ve been huntin' him a bunch of years. Kill him and you've done something.”
Maybe. Maybe not.
All due respect, but my guess is that they’ve been chasing more than one turkey during that time. Good habitats hold spring gobblers, period, and not necessarily the same one. It may indeed be a hard-to-sell young bird. Older doesn’t always mean more difficult.
I've seen full-fan strutters doing their thing in suburban backyards too. I’ve had longbeards with sharp spurs and dragging beards run to my setups on a death wish. Then again I’ve seen many a legal fall hen provide some of my most difficult hunts. The same goes for spring jakes. Some are tougher to kill than certain longbeards.
Truth is there are easy and hard turkeys around the country. It doesn’t always have to do with age or subspecies. There are camp pools, record book statistics, and so on. That’s cool with me, especially from the standpoint of checking out the bird you’ve killed. But how much did the quality of your hunting experience weigh? That’s the real deal. I'm a big fan of longbeards too, but that doesn't mean they're always difficult to tag.
(Steve Hickoff photo)
Get the latest turkey hunting news, tips and tactics in your inbox!
Steve Hickoff is Realtree.com's editorial director and turkey hunting editor. 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.