The great wild turkey hunting lost cause
During a recent hunt in Minnesota, I acted as the caller for a youngster and his father. An hour into the morning, we got a response out of two birds. They came in on a rope, but stopped just short of where we could shoot them. There, they gobbled, strutted, and carried on for 45 minutes. Then they skirted us.
An hour later, I called them back and they did the exact same thing. It was exciting and very frustrating. For whatever reason, those birds hit a line they wouldn’t cross and there was nothing I could say to change their minds. By this time of the turkey season, those birds have become a lost cause. At least on that particular morning ….
The reasoning behind this, at least on that farm, is probably pressure. We are a month into the season, and they’ve been hunted hard every week. As much as they wanted to come in, they wouldn’t and often that’s because they’ve had some bad experiences lately.
It happens, and is part of the game. I don’t know if we would have had a better chance calling them in if we had moved, but I know what happened when we didn’t. I also had a strong suspicion that they were lost causes not long after they hung up. If I had been on my own or at least been one of the hunters, I may have considered a move or some type of trick. For three black-clad hunters in a blind, there were few options.
This is the reality of late-season hunting, and recognizing the lost-cause longbeard is a good step toward finding one that will play the game. It’s never a bad idea to sit in the thick stuff this time of year, where they’ve been pressured less and they can fill their bellies with bugs and freshly bloomed greenery. It’s also not a bad idea to stay mobile. Maybe a bird won’t commit to your setup, but he might dig it if it’s located somewhere a little more turkey friendly.
By this point in the season, some birds will be nearly impossible to call in. Give them as much time as you can, but prepare to try again elsewhere. That might be necessary to run across a more amenable tom.