Sitka Mountain Gear
Help!! Mature Tom out smarting me!
Turkey
Contributors to this thread:
Vids 04-May-16
trkyslr 04-May-16
Brotsky 04-May-16
hawkeye in PA 04-May-16
shortstop 04-May-16
Bows the way 04-May-16
tacklebox 04-May-16
Hunter II 04-May-16
Southern draw 04-May-16
Tracker12 04-May-16
Franzen 04-May-16
writer 04-May-16
lewis 04-May-16
Bake 04-May-16
DeanMan 04-May-16
sasquatch 04-May-16
Cazador 04-May-16
HUNT MAN 04-May-16
drycreek 04-May-16
jims 04-May-16
writer 04-May-16
jims 05-May-16
writer 05-May-16
hogthief 05-May-16
Franzen 05-May-16
hyrax 05-May-16
scentman 05-May-16
ToddT 06-May-16
writer 06-May-16
ToddT 07-May-16
writer 07-May-16
rershooter 10-May-16
writer 10-May-16
DeanMan 10-May-16
Hawkeye 11-May-16
rershooter 11-May-16
HUNT MAN 11-May-16
DeanMan 11-May-16
04-May-16
Northeast Ohio, hunted last night and had several birds gobbling decent and got to within about 100 yards. Then a hen started their way and off they went. This is all in the woods, no fields. I went back this morning and called a large tom in all alone. He took his time and came within about 80 yards. I had a half strut jake and hen decoy. He skirted me at 80 yards gobbling pretty good but never strutting. He got past me to about 80 yards and stayed there. I quit calling and he kept hammering "like why aren't you following me?" I waited and he proceeded to close the distance slightly. I started soft calling again. He skirted me a second time exactly like he did the first time. I never once saw him strut? Should I see if a friend will come along and sit up behind me to get him to close the distance? Should I remove the decoys?

From: Vids
04-May-16
Wish I could help, but that pretty much describes most of my hunts. :)

I'm very good at calling jakes right in to the decoys, and having mature toms hang up. We got one to come to 50 yards on Sunday, a nice tom with about a 10" beard. Then of course 4 hens showed up and he took off with them.

From: trkyslr
04-May-16
especially later season im not a fan of a half or full strut decoy. Id use a submissive jake and hen (or 2) if possible. Id also try and setup maybe on the same path you had your encounter with him on. hes walked it once and was safe so good odds he'll travel that route again. last sunday we had two longbeards come in from one direction and two jakes from a different direction. i had a dsd jake and two hens (placed on the ground) and the toms didnt pay any attention to the two live jakes or dsd jake.. they did run in and started laying the wood to both hens on the ground. good luck!

From: Brotsky
04-May-16
Did you start calling when he started to close the distance? If so that was your mistake, once he heard that he thinks the hen is potentially coming to him.

Based upon my experience in this situation the tom is looking for his potential girlfriend. He's not 100% sure where she is so he gobbles and gobbles and gobbles hoping to call her to him. Chances are pretty good he never saw your decoys. Decoys are incredibly hard for turkeys to see in the woods, especially when they aren't moving. Once I saw him I would have made a few soft, contented hen sounds and maybe did a little scratching. He would key in on your location. Then I'd be quiet and see how he responded. If he starts moving away I'd get really aggressive with him if I thought he was going to leave.

Leave the decoys out, make the soft, contented feeding hen sounds as he approaches your location to give him a good fix, and then wait him out. If he fails to commit get aggressive with him. Secondly, and most importantly, make sure you are set-up in a location where he can get a visual on your decoys and has a clean approach. Good luck!

04-May-16
Can't help ya, problems of my own. Monday he gobbled at least 200 times at anything, car horn, Jake brake, cows belching, geese, ducks, crows and me. 40 yards was his limit. Tuesday six gobblers together and totally uninterested. Only time they gobbled was when they rounded a corner and seen the Jeep at point blank distance. I'm 200 yards away. Good luck!

From: shortstop
04-May-16
My best experiences.....don't make another sound after you know he's acknowledged you. Your butt will get so sore, but that's when he'll show........in range! Good luck!

From: Bows the way
04-May-16
Having a buddy sit 15 yards behind me worked last year similar situation. Work keeping me from the hunt this year.

04-May-16
Thank you all and good luck. To those that are feeling my pain; kinda glad to know I am not alone.....LOL. I hope he sticks around a few more days so I get another chance. That stupid "Job" thing is getting in the way. I would have called off sick but had pressing matters that I could not avoid.

From: tacklebox
04-May-16
As already posted when I have this issue I typically remove any male dekes and go with one or two hens placed on the ground. Seems to work... sometimes, most of the time? lol Stupid turkeys

From: Hunter II
04-May-16
Move away from him calling as you go. Find a good spot to shoot him when he chases you down.

04-May-16
sounds like he's been sprayed with lead ? maybe or maybe not. Since its all woods try the no decoy approach make him come find you . good luck

04-May-16
Southern, very possible. There were 3 toms opening day 2 weeks ago. I didn't hear any others off the roost this morning?

From: Tracker12
04-May-16
I often encounter birds that like to just run a ridge and sound off. I know my are pretty well and from experience can tell for the most part where he is heading. I will try to get in front of him and set up. Kind of like getting ahead of a bugling bull. Now that the woods are greening up it is not that hard to get in front without being seen.

04-May-16
I have had good success run and gunning with the shotgun. the blind and bow and decoys without a doubt more challenging....I think had I taken the gun I could have moved on him coming in and possibly made it happen. I have been tossing the option of no blind and trying the Natural setup and bust with the greener foliage.

From: Franzen
04-May-16
A couple thoughts. The way I read, you were able to see the bird skirt your position at 80 yards. If that is the case, your woods are still very open (although they can get pretty thick in a matter of days). If this is the case, then he either doesn't think your decoys are realistic enough, or there is something else he doesn't like about the setup. As others have stated, you probably need to change something about the setup.

If he has indeed been shot at this year, I think you will have a tough time calling that bird into one of these cookie-cutter setups, especially without phenomenal calling that gets the bird super fired up. Ambush might be the better option in that scenario.

Also, no reason not to try the buddy system if hunting solo does not matter to you. Edit: If you try this route, I would definitely leave the decoys in the bag.

From: writer
04-May-16
Always humorous how people can say "that was your mistake" when nothing is a constant in turkey hunting.

We've killed dozens of toms simply because we kept calling at them while they were coming and have lost some because we stopped.

And it's gone the other way, too.

Like Chris said, later in the season they don't seem to have the energy to rumble, even with a jake, at least not like a few weeks earlier.

You may be working a bird that's been clipped by a shot, or a bird that's been scared by a hunter near a decoy, you may be dealing with a wussified two-year-old that doesn't want anything to do with any other male turkey,....or you may be....or...

Or you may go back the next time, call the same and he runs in and mounts your jake decoy, humping like a cowboy trying to stay on a saddle bronc.

Keep after him, and remember to start easy and simple. You can increase the calling if the soft talk isn't working.

If you start off hammering him,...you hunt like I do most of the time. :-)

If possible, you may want to try getting really tight to the bird after roosting it the night before.

Birds like that can be frustrating, but it's soooooo nice when it finally comes together.

04-May-16
Thanks for the encouraging words Writer. Been beating myself up all morning that I possibly was the cause. Which I could have been, nice to know that possibly I wasn't? I will get out again tomorrow before work for an hour.....hope he's a little quicker in committing and comes all the way.....LOL

From: lewis
04-May-16
Crank it up is what I do and have be blessed to have taken birds all over the country but no hunt is the same.When my dear wife is hunting with me and that happens she always says "get radical"and away we go Good luck.Lewis

From: Bake
04-May-16
I'm no turkey expert, but I always tell people who ask how my turkey hunting is going (if I haven't killed yet). . .

I zig and they zag. Tomorrow I'll zag, and they'll zig. Eventually, I'll zig and they'll zig and it'll happen. Or not . . .

Bake

From: DeanMan
04-May-16
Ditch the decoys and have a buddy float call behind you(throw some gobbles in the calling sequence.if safe to do so)make it sound like a party.he is waiting for the hen to show up so if you throw some gobbles in sequence it might make sense to him why she is not coming in and it might make him look for the party and u should set up in his comfort zone which might be where you last saw him.hopefully it will all come together and you can put your tag on him and call it a day!God bless.......Deanman

From: sasquatch
04-May-16
If you was calling when you could see him he knew something wasn't right! He could tell EXACTLY where that sound was coming from and knows he should have seen the hen! Once you strike up a bird and feel he is coming just shut up and play the silent game, trust me he can tell within a few feet where the calling is coming from from a long ways out. Also setup in a way that you cant see him and he cant see you until he is in range.

From: Cazador
04-May-16
My two cents. I like to call, call alot.

This year I had a similar situation, I had a nice bird strutting 50-60 yds out, never came to jake or hen and left. I hit him hard with my self named "offset". I started calling loud with my diaphragm and a second or two behind started hard with my box call. Both going at the same time but offset, man he got fired up, came back out with fire and I killed him.

May work,may not.

Good luck

From: HUNT MAN
04-May-16
Play some MC Hammer on the way to the blind. It works trust me:) Hunt

From: drycreek
04-May-16
HUNT, please tell him not to wear the pants :)

From: jims
04-May-16
I have a feeling the tom will hold up if there aren't any decoys and you've already tried tom/jake with hens. It sounds like he doesn't like what he is seeing and/or hearing. I didn't read through all the responses but it sounds like the tom is looking for hens? How about setting up 1 or 2 hen decoys without a jake or tom? Keep changing things up and stick with it!

From: writer
04-May-16
No, Caz, that would not have worked with that turkey you killed.

it's impossible.

As soon as you went to the second call, but only had out one hen decoy the tom figured out it was one hen too many, therefore he was being hunted.

Archer 0880 - one thing to keep in mind, is that if you're hunting thick timber that's probably working against you, too.

Turkeys, like deer, and humans, are usually more nervous and hesitant in situations where they can't see well and feel more vulnerable.

The float calling concept is danged deadly,...but you won't be the one calling.

Keep us posted, and if you run out of excuses let me know...between doing it for about 36 seasons, and working with words for a living, I'm always good for a few dozen creative alibis. :-)

From: jims
05-May-16
Writer, I wonder if turkeys are a little like elk and moose I've hunted for years? Sometimes you can do all the calling you want but if a smart ole tom doesn't see what they like they head the other way? I've had a bunch of toms hang up because they saw decoys but likely didn't see any decoy movement. Others saw decoys but it likely wasn't the right setup. There are so many options...the sky is the limit. I imagine sometimes there is no rhyme nor reason why a smart ole tom suddenly decides to strut into bow range but sometimes it's possible to think like a tom in a particular situation and figure out what works.

I think you are absolutely right that a tom is nervous and hesitant in a situation where the tom can't see and feels more vulnerable in timber. It's likely a matter of figuring out what may get him relaxed or excited! FEMALES can definitely get a male thinking crazy thoughts!

05-May-16
Thanks again to all For the info. Heading back out this morning to see if he is still around and ready for a girlfriend. I have a few more hunts to try some different suggestions. Hope I find the one that works. Good luck to all.

From: writer
05-May-16
Jims...I'm not sure turkeys think, or are smart, I think they react to situations.

Some also seem to have turkanality traits...like the wuss that won't go to a hen fearing another tom will come and whip on him. That can be a two-year-old, or a longspur past his prime.

Some birds are kinda like gang members, in a bunch they're pretty tough and bold. Alone, they wuss-up in a hurry.

Bowtech...you've given the bird plenty of chances to die with dignity. It may be time to crawl, float call, ambush or sleep under the roost.

Sometimes, the turkey just has to die. :-)

05-May-16
Writer - I went this morning and he had a friend gobbling with him on the roost. They didn't say much after fly down. I have the roost pegged pretty good? Going to try setting up blind, clearing a path and sneaking in possibly tomorrow or Sunday. I hope to be posting a pic of this bird sometime soon. He has got to die :).

From: hogthief
05-May-16
Lose the decoy. Adult toms that have been hunted know the game. When they see a hen they know that they are supposed to come to them, especially late in the season. When they stop gobbling, be ready, that's when they will sometimes come in to investigate the hen they hear but don't see. With that said, I still have a tag in my pocket, so what do I know. Good luck.

From: Franzen
05-May-16
In my experience, wide open, pretty, high visibility timber is more an enemy of a turkey bowhunter than an ally, so I'm not sure I get where "thick" woods would be working against a hunter? I'm talking about hunting Easterns in hardwood timber. If I read the situation right, it seemed that in all likelihood the birds were able to see the dekes.

05-May-16
Franzen, very possible he saw decoys. I had a standard hen and new gobble stopper jake. I Think he was shying away from the Jake? Since he skirted me then stayed out hammering then coming back through as to try and get the hen to follow. The woods is fairly thick with the exception the area I was in. I could only catch him through small windows as he gobbled walking through.

From: hyrax
05-May-16
Here is a list of things that I notice will hang a gobbler, mostly observations of solo birds:

1. Calling when they can actually see to your position (one form of "over-calling"). They will frequently never come any closer until the hen shows herself. Hard to believe you can "over-call" with just a single yelp but you can.

2. Decoys frequently hang a single gobbler. The hen committing the last several yards to the gobbler is part of the courtship process. Gobblers are proud, if he goes all the way to her then he loses cool points. A jake decoy may not be enough to make him believe he has real competition. Sometimes those jakes are the hen's poults from the year before.

3. Calling out of shooting range to the highest point in the immediate area. Turkey will go there and look down but not commit. Even a two or three foot elevation difference is enough to hang them up. They are wired to be on the highest point when they are searching. My best set-up is to be just on the opposite side of a hill or ridge or some sight blocker. They come all the way to where they can see your position and you shoot them. An interested bird will almost always come at least as far as it takes them to be able to see to the spot they heard a call.

4. Calling him from an area or direction that he wasn't already planning to go. They may come over but may not come all the way. Get somewhere that they are already wanting to go.

5. Calling him to keep hearing him gobble (another form of "over-calling"). He's get satisfied that you, the hen, are committed so he doesn't have to. Or he attracts real hens because he's gobbling so much then leaves with them. Or he attracts another hunter who sets up on the other side of him and keeps him in stasis. Or maybe he gets suspicious of this hen that keeps calling but never changes her position.

6. Trying to call him out of an open area into a brushy or wooded area.

When I do get a bird that hangs, I quit calling completely. He will leave and then I move up to the point where he hung and call him back. You have to be fairly quick about it because if he gets too far, he won't come back.

If you're really ambitious, have a buddy call him off of his roost to where he will hang. Once he is over there, you sneak in under his roost tree and call him back. They will almost always come all the way back to their roost tree if they don't have hens. They are expecting hens to meet them there. Get to the roost tree, call to get him to answer, then don't call anymore.

From: scentman
05-May-16
Go to the farmers market and get a live hen turkey, then get about 50' of bailing twine... tie one end to sapling and one to the hen leg... if he don't come in to that he either don't like the ladies or he don't want a butt whippn. Seriously, that's what makes it so fun,trying to figure these prune brains out. Good luck and enjoy.

05-May-16
Hyrax - I think you covered it all....I hope I can close the deal.

Scentman- Got a good laugh out of that one....Agreed trying to outsmart them is the fun part.

From: ToddT
06-May-16
I don't understand why anyone would have trouble killing a stupid turkey. It seems like many hear have said that turkey are the dumbest animals on earth. Anyone could kill a dumb old turkey. Apparently everyone knows that, along with the moon is made of cream cheese, and the earth is flat.

Now back to reality. Several here have stated correctly, it doesn't matter what you do really, a turkey has to be in the right mood to be drawn into range. I have heard so many stories from guys who have very little turkey hunting experience, tell about how easy it is to kill a turkey. They only spent about an hour to kill their first, and it came running in, hell bent to a call, and basically there was nothing short of kicking the turkey, to get him to change his mind.

But then, ahh, then, there are the turkey that I hunt. Those who seem to know that demise is at the end of their love stroll to my calling. In a nutshell, I wouldn't overthink it. I know it is difficult not to at times, but really do not overthink it. Just keep at it, and eventually it will happen. My firm belief is that to be a successful turkey hunter, the most important ingredients are #1, time spent hunting, #2, Patience, #3, being where a gobbler wants to be.

Good luck. This has been an extraordinarily difficult year for me, as I haven't killed a turkey this year and up until about five years ago, I used to shoot between five and ten turkey a year hunting various states. But it seems that in the past six or eight years, things have changed considerably when it comes to turkey hunting. My theory is that turkey hunter numbers have increased dramatically and that has contributed significantly to, fewer birds as well as more educated birds.

From: writer
06-May-16
ToddT...

Turkeys are not the dumbest animals on Earth, ...that distinction belongs to those who believe Bernie is the man to save America.

I still don't think turkeys are overly smart, but can be very wary. And I've shot TWO turkeys, not just one.

Your point about over-thinking it is on, though.

From: ToddT
07-May-16
Writer,I apologize if you felt my post was directed towards you, it wasn't. Actually I thought your post was spot on.

Anyway, it seems a general consensus here is that turkey are the dumbest creatures on earth. And though I will agree they aren't the sharpest of the sharp, at times they can be extremely wary and almost impossible to coax into range.

As a matter of fact, at one time I would kill 6 to 10 turkey each year hunting several states but in recent years I have hunted primarily at home. This year I did hunt florida, where out of 12 hunters 10 killed birds. I was one of the two that didn't. Even though I am fully aware that some turkey simply cannot be killed on some days, it is a pretty huge blow to one's ego, when you consider yourself to be pretty good at something and just can't make it happen. For the record, I could have shot a gobbler in Florida, but I was hunting with a shotgun and had I taken the shot, due to their formation,I would have most likely taken out 3 gobblers and a hen, as they were walking along a road bed in close single file at about 40 yards. So with their heads within just a few horizontal inches I passed.

Then after returning home and hunting around 15 to 20 mornings with no success, while other,,,,greenhorns,who have only shothe one or two birds in their life, or maybe none, kill at least one bird, it becomes really frustrating, really quick.

But back to my original thought. Occasionally, not usually as much as I have this year, but occasionally, gobblers can be extremely difficult to bring in, and other days, they will come running to you like you are an old lost loved one that they haven't seen in years.

Ifor I were in your shoes and you know for a fact that your birds frequent your area,I would simply hang in there. If your primary goal is to kill a gobbler, patience will beat out skill every time. The only thing better being luck, but mine ran out years ago.

From: writer
07-May-16
ToddT

#1 rule...always remember I'm a Smart-Azz. Never thought it was a foul...

From: rershooter
10-May-16
if your hunting pure woods lose the decoys. As soon as he sees them hes content. Make him search for your calling.

From: writer
10-May-16
Ok, rers,....so wat about in the wide-open spaces. Are they content as soon as they see the decoys? We've killed a few truck loads of prairie birds over decoys in the fall, winter and spring.

From: DeanMan
10-May-16
Bowtech Archer,is the bird still roosting in same area?if so another approach you can try is basically try figure out his basic patterns.chances are that there are Hens roosting near him and you will have to slip in close to where they are and not call at all.if the hen hit the ground first they will start feeding try and figure where that is and set up ambush site.if gobbler hits ground first he will make his way over to where hens are roosting so you mite want to set up under the hens but if you try getting in tight to the roosting area do not call let the birds do what they do and hopefully ur set will be in the right place.sometimes silence is deadly especially with a wise gobbler.

From: Hawkeye
11-May-16
If I had to pick one thing that has killed me more turkeys it's the quiet game. Second is patience. I always tell people they will hate hunting with me because it can be long, QUIET and boring.

But, I also don't give them too much credit and tomorrow can be a completely different turkey. One of biggest birds I've ever killed I hunted all season and never came in to anything.....ANYTHING.

You'd swear he was unkillable. Then on May 14th, few days before the end,he flew down and walked right in. Nothing different. Had shotgun pellets in his breast and a 12"/10" double beard. Been around the block but nothing special on my end that morning.

Sometimes their hens are gone, they are lonely, upset or just fired up. Other times they are timid, stubborn and fearful. I would just find the places they frequent and travel like Chris said, call JUST enough to let him know your there (they hear everything), and just wait for that spitting/drumming sound.

I actually prefer quiet mornings. I know they can hear ME. No gobbling means less hens going TO THEM, and based on scouting I always try to be in areas they are COMFORTABLE. Those are the most important things in my opinion as every strategy works at least once each season in every area. But patience, being in places they want to be, and selective subtle calling can be all it takes most of the time.

Good luck!

11-May-16
He wasn't roosted in same spot Friday morning. Back in blind now. Nothing yet. Gave them a few days.

Dean - I have tried getting a pattern. Problem is they roost center of several fields I cannot hunt. I picked the wrong field they tend to head to every time.

If I learned anything this year is that I might have called to much.

11-May-16
Got a bird gobbling. Sounds good. He has lit up the woods a few times. Hope he's looking for a lady friend.

11-May-16
Did some light calling after fly down. Had 2 birds (couldn't tell if gobbler and hen or 2 gobblers? Skirt me at right around 50 yards. They came through silent and soon as they were close enough they should have seen a bird they just kept walking. Never did make a sound. Taking off till Friday. Think I need to take a partner to get the last 30 yards closed?

From: rershooter
11-May-16
Writer,

no, I've killed tons of birds too. I always use decoys in "open" sets and never use them in woods. I think in open they come in better to decoys because their vision is number 1 and they can see everything including trouble, more comfortable more likely to come in. In woods ambushes are waiting behind every tree, and they cant see them. Once they see decoys, they want them to take the risk and have the dekes come to them.

From: HUNT MAN
11-May-16
Have you tried the MC Hammer yet ? Trust me it works.

11-May-16
HUNT, Not yet but with only a few days left in the season I might be trying it......LOL

From: DeanMan
11-May-16
Bowtech,it's not over til the big boned lady sings!definitely bring a buddy with you and have him float call behind you.set up in the comfort zone.GL

11-May-16
Got a bird gobbling. Sounds good. He has lit up the woods a few times. Hope he's looking for a lady friend.

16-May-16
I have been defeated. After Wednesday morning never heard another bird gobble. Weather was rain then snow and high winds. They are safe now till the Fall. Congrats to those who made it happen this year.

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