Know When to Move
March 16, 2004
It’s one of the most heart-pounding experiences in hunting. You’ve been calling to a hot-gobbling turkey that answers your every call. He’s closed the gap of 200 yards through the woods and is now just about in your face, his gobbles vibrating the woods around you. You hear his footsteps in the leaves and know that any second, he’s going to pop out from behind the trees right in front of you.
As you wait, gun up and aimed in the direction of the gobbler’s approach, the woods seem to grow silent. Your heart races as your eyes dart from side to side, straining to find the bird in the maze of brush and branches before you. Suddenly, a gobble thunders not 25 yards away, but this time, the bird’s not in front of you, he’s off to your right—way to your right. So what do you do? Try to move now and the tom is probably going to bust you, which means he’s out of there and the sure-thing hunt you had working melts into an empty-handed walk back to your truck.
“Knowing when to move on an approaching turkey is one of the most important skills a hunter can develop,” said National Wild Turkey Federation CEO and expert turkey hunter Rob Keck. “Try to envision the different directions the bird may approach from. Get yourself mentally prepared for what you hope will play out, but be ready to switch gears when the tom decides differently.”
Which directions offer you clear shooting and how far out? Use trees to mark the maximum distance you can effectively shoot (within 40 yards) so you will know when the bird has stepped into range.
As the bird approaches, stay attuned to his advance, marking the sound of his gobbles, footsteps in the leaves, or spitting and drumming, a sound a gobbler makes when he is strutting and that can only be heard when he is getting close. If you’re a right-handed shooter, point your left shoulder toward the turkey with your knees up and your shotgun propped on the left one (just the opposite for lefties). Keep the butt of the gun pressed tightly against the shoulder and keep your head down on the stock, sighting down the barrel. You want to be ready to shoot.
By sitting this way you have a greater range of motion from which to swing your gun and aim if necessary. As the turkey comes into sight, watch his head and move only when his eyes are out of sight, usually when he steps behind a tree. By following this advice, hunters are sure to connect on more incoming turkeys and reduce the number of sure-to-fail quick-draw attempts.
The NWTF is a great resource for turkey hunting tips and other wild turkey information. Visit the NWTF’s Web site for information or call 800-THE-NWTF to become a NWTF member and receive one of their great magazines filled with turkey hunting tips and stories.