Gobbler's Travels

In spring, a gobbler has just one thing on his mind, and it involves hens. Yet there are plenty of times in the turkey woods when a gobbler doesn't follow the script. Set up in the best spots and make the perfect calls, and a wily old tom still winds up ignoring you or--worse yet--busting you. To help make such hunts rare occasions, we've asked noted turkey hunters and champion callers to provide pointers on what they might do at key times during a typical day in the life of a gobbler. Imagine a spring day in an Eastern 
turkey woods. It's not too far into the 
season, the hens are still fairly vocal and there are some gobblers left that haven't been educated by other hunters. Let's go get your beard and spurs.
Guy #1: Steve Stoltz - 1Wake-Up Call Scenario: A gobbler is shaking the leaves off the trees with his roost gobbles and he's not far away. You can set up on him easily enough, but getting him to come your way is another matter, especially if he's serenading a few hens in the surrounding trees.
Steve Stoltz recommends: "If you're tight on the gobbler to the point where you can almost see him, give him a couple of soft tree calls and let him know you're there. That's it. Hopefully there's something about the terrain where you've set up that will encourage him to fly down your way. Or, if you hear hens around him, let them get him excited, but be the first one on the ground, so to speak. After you make some flydown racket, call more aggressively so that, hopefully, he heads your way."
Guy #2: Mark Drury - Flydown Time Scenario: The gobbler flies down to open the day's proceedings, but it's not in your direction after all. Perhaps another hen has captured his imagination, leading him away. Whatever the cause, the gobbler has gone quiet.
Mark Drury recommends: "Sit and wait thirty-five or forty minutes. There's never a time when gobblers are more hardheaded about coming to a caller's position than right after flydown. If he hits the ground across a creek or swamp and you know he's not going to come back to you, wait a while and then try to get way around him and head him off. "If the terrain is in your favor, and he just stays around there and gobbles, you're still in the game. If he gobbles and walks off, it's time to go looking for another gobbler. But keep that bird in mind for another day."
Guy #3: Will Primos - Henned Up Scenario: The first gobbler you locate isn't too cooperative, so you decide to look for another. After slipping through the woods awhile, you hear another tom, but you also hear hens yelping, purring and cutting around him.
Will Primos recommends: "When that happens, switch your focus to the hens, because the gobbler is going to strut around and stay with them as long as they'll have him. He'll gobble at you and invite you to join them, but call too aggressively now and it will probably cause the hens to lead him off in another direction. "Maybe you can appeal to the hens' curiosity by scratching leaves as if you're feeding--something non-threatening. Calling is out for now, though. Later on, after the hens have slipped away, he might come your way."
Guy #4: Preston Pittman - Midday Walk-around Scenario: Hens have drifted off to thickets and cutovers to lay eggs, and the gobbler is a lonely guy again. No doubt he'll start cruising the 'hood, hoping to find a few hens that haven't been courted yet.
Preston Pittman recommends: "Assuming it's later in the season, and the supply of hens is dwindling, the gobbler might be covering a lot of ground. You should travel too, and try a locator such as a crow or owl call to get him to gobble. If he responds, close the distance, then set up and give a few noncommittal yelps and purrs. "He might come in quiet, so sit still for a long time before moving. 'Watch' with your ears, too, listening for a squirrel barking, or crows or bluejays hollering at him as he comes in. A lot of times a gobbler will come in quiet, see you, and slip away without your even knowing he was there."
Guy #5: Matt Morrett - Heading for the Roost  Scenario:The afternoon is waning and the gobbler knows it's time to start heading for his favorite roosting woods. Perhaps his afternoon entourage now includes a couple of hens and a jake or two. At any rate, he knows where the hens are likely to spend the night, and that's where he's going to wind up as well.
Matt Morrett recommends: "If you're in a familiar area, your first goal should be to get to the right spot before you make any sound on a call. When you pick the right set-up, which is hopefully the area between where the gobbler is and where you feel he wants to be, cutt and yelp excitedly. That's if you think he's alone. "If you know he's traveling toward his roosting area with hens, yelp softly, cluck a bit and just talk some flock talk--you don't want the hens to take him in a different direction."
Guy #6: Harold Knight - Fly-Up Time  Scenario: The gobbler finally decides which tree he wants to spend the night in and flies up. He makes quite a commotion and you've got him pegged. Tomorrow morning, all you've got to do is come back and nail him. A pushover…or is it?
Harold Knight recommends: "If it's early in the season, before there are many leaves on the trees, and you're close to him, stay still until it's good and dark before leaving. You might call to him to make him gobble before dark, and possibly to see if there are any hens around him. "When you come back in the morning, set up at the same level on the ridge or in the hollow as him. And then hope that he didn't move in the night for some reason, because that happens. You really shouldn't count on him being easy, though, because every day in the turkey woods is a new day." Click here for this Season's New Turkey Calls >>