Anyone who hunts turkeys eventually will bump one off the roost or will spook a gobbler by moving at the wrong time.

Anyone who hunts turkeys long enough will probably have the
misfortune of shooting at and missing a gobbler. Many hunters give
up, or only hunt half-heartedly, after experiencing one of these
scenarios. They don’t realize they are missing an opportunity to
harvest the same bird they just spooked.

Quaker Boy pro staff member Wayne Gendron says, “Gobblers are so
used to having predators get after them, especially in spring when
they are gobbling, that if they get scared, in 30 minutes they are
no longer scared. Gobblers are interested in two things in spring:
saving their own skin, and hens. If they spent all their time being
scared, they would never find time to breed.”

That doesn’t mean gobblers are not wary in spring. It just means
they put bad experiences behind them and continue to go about their
daily routine. Gendron believes too many hunters make a mistake
when they spook a turkey and think their hunt is over for the
day.

“In 30 minutes that turkey is over the incident and is very
killable,” he says.

Gendron says this is especially true if a pair of gobblers gets
spooked and separated.

“Those gobblers are buddies, and after 30 minutes they want to
be back together and are vulnerable to low-pitched gobbler
yelps.”

The same is true with a gobbler that gets spooked and is
separated from his hens. In 30 minutes he is lonely and wants to be
back with the ladies. The breeding urge is very strong in spring,
so if a hunter makes a mistake, he should just ease up for 30
minutes to let the gobbler calm down. Then go back and try to call
him in.

Even shooting at and missing a gobbler will not spook him for
the rest of the day. Gendron recalls several times he has shot a
gobbler from a group and then watched the gobbler’s companions
pounce on the mortally wounded bird while it was flopping on the
ground.

“Turkeys have no idea what a gun is,” he says. “They are not
intelligent at all. A turkey is extremely wild and is afraid of
everything, but they don’t have any reasoning powers. A gun going
off is just a loud noise to a turkey, like an airplane going over
or a clap of thunder.”

Gendron says when hunters spook a gobbler and separate him from
his hens or another gobbler, they should follow the gobbler several
hundred yards from where it was spooked. Try to set up between the
gobbler and his companions, wait 30 minutes and start calling. One
mistake hunters make when doing this is lack of patience. Even
though the gobbler has gotten over the incident that spooked him,
he is not likely to abandon caution and run to the calling. It may
take two hours for the bird to make its way back.

Turkey hunting expert Eddie Salter, a member of Hunter’s
Specialties pro staff, says turkeys and other critters regard a gun
shot as just another loud, natural sound.

If Salter spooks a bird that comes in, or if he bumps a

bird while walking through the woods, he leaves for a while and
hunts another bird, but he returns later to hunt the spooked
bird.

“A gobbler is lovesick in spring,” Salter says. “He has been
waiting 10 months for this to happen and just because you scared
him a little doesn’t mean he’s not going to try to get back with
his girlfriends as soon as possible.”

Salter sometimes intentionally spooks gobblers that are tight
with a bunch of hens and won’t respond to calling. He waits for the
gobbler to separate a little, then scatters the flock the way fall
turkey hunters do. He then sets up a short distance away, waits a
little while and goes back to calling.

Spooking a gobbler or even shooting at one and missing doesn’t
have to mean the end of a hunt. When hunters bump a turkey they
should closely watch where it runs or flies. Then calm down,
regroup and play on the gobbler’s heartstrings for a second chance
at the same bird.

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