Just like we hoped, the tom across from the Mantys pitched into the field and burst into instant strut. He looked beautiful. I just new he was on his way, when a single hen, sailed into the field and walked right past him, dragging him back into the woods. The two soon emerged from another point in the field about 100 yards away and lounged around, the hen paying no attention to the gobbler and the gobbler, strutting in vain like a schoolboy showing off for his older sister’s friend. Our calls had no effect on either of them.
After they headed out of sight an hour later, Tommy, Jay and Dylan moved toward the back of the property to hopefully intercept them, while I went to get Mark and work the front side of the land.
The gobbler nearest Mark that had gobbled several times that morning had not been heard nor seen since fly-down. Now mind you, Tommy and I laid out some of the best calling I’ve heard all season if I do say so myself—all of it within earshot of both gobblers. But don’t you know as soon as he and I stood up and edged around the corner of field, not 100 yards from where he had been sitting all morning, that other longbeard was standing right there, by himself, just pecking around in the field. If I had been carrying a gun, I could have aimed and simply fired. The turkey was barely 30 yards away when I rounded the bend.
Later that day, we came up on four more birds strutting in a field, but the birds spotted our truck and slid into the cover of the forest. Now normally, if you back out of the area, give the turkeys some time to settle down and then start calling, you are still in business. We never saw the birds again. The whole situation left us more than befuddled. Limited to a half-day hunt, their whereabouts would remain a mystery as we gave it up at noon
When turkeys do start to go silent on you or refuse to work to your calls, here are a few tips that might help you still fill your tag.
Try A Different Call—This is why veteran callers like Walter Parrott and Quaker Boy’s Chris Kirby always carry a variety of calls in the woods with them. From raspy boxes to high-pitched glass calls you need to be able to sound like different birds. That sound that got him gobbling yesterday may do nothing for him today. Switch it up to try to get him to sound off.
Sit Tight—When birds quit gobbling, if you move, you’re only going to bump them. If turkeys have been coming to a field every day, set up in a likely crossing spot, call sparingly and wait them out. And if it has seemed like turkeys have been overly call shy, you may just want to shut up altogether and wait for one to come along. This isn’t the most exciting way to hunt turkeys, but more often than not, the patient hunter will fill more tags than the man-on-the-move every season.
Take A Different Approach—Where we may well have messed up this past weekend with the four turkeys that left the field after spotting our truck is that because of the time and terrain, we were sort of forced to setup in the same direction from where they had been spooked. If possible, come in from a different direction, use a call the turkeys haven’t heard yet calling lightly every 10 or 15 minutes and bide your time. Call softly at first. If a turkey cuts your call off, hit him again, if he suddenly starts responding, don’t go back to being quiet, for whatever reason, he’s right. Keep working him into a frenzy and be ready.
Use Your Eyes—Windy or rainy days will drive birds to the fields where they can see. Likewise, turkeys will often naturally gravitate toward fields where they can strut and be seen by hens, particularly when there isn’t much gobbling going on. Use a good pair of binoculars to ease up to the edge of woods and scan fields. Slowly work inside the wood’s edge where you can remain hidden and search for birds loafing in the shadows. If he is feeding along in a particular direction, get around in front of him; ease to within shooting distance of the field’s edge and wait for him to naturally walk into range.
Work the Hens—In the event turkeys aren’t gobbling because they are henned up, sometimes you can get a boss hen fired up, by aggressively calling. Get her cranked up and you might pull her in with a gobbler in tow. Everyone, after all, loves a catfight!
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