Although I suspect I will continue to be a loner on most of my days in the
turkey woods, there are times when two hunters working in tandem, can get the
job done when the best loner in the woods will fail. Here is how it works.
Anyone who has hunted turkeys very much can share with you experiences of
gobblers, which appeared for all-the-world to be cruising right into their last
party when all of a sudden they had second thoughts. Sometimes they hang up
out-of-range and just flat refuse to take another step. Often, they will strut their little hearts out and even choke out a gobble
now and then, but advance? Not likely buster. And even though there have been
countless magazine articles, book chapters, DVD's and TV shows on the very
subject of dealing with what we hunters simply call "hung-up-birds," the truth
is that there is no magic love song, which will force a gobbler to tip-toe
across that invisible line. And that, is where team
work pays off.
Let's say you and your buddy get a bird to gobble not too far ahead of you.
It's tempting to just flop-down, shoulder-to-shoulder, backs against a stout
tree, get your shotguns resting comfortably over your left knee (for
right-handers) and wait for the show to begin. And sometimes, it is quite the
show. But you can avoid the dreaded hang-up, by splitting up. Decide
beforehand who is going to be "the shooter" and who will be "the caller."
When that bird gobbles, don't rush around like a crappie flopping around on
the cleaning table, just take a good look around and find a place for the
shooter to sit down and get ready. For years, it has been my habit to carry one of those H.S. Strut fold up blinds in the
rear pouch of my turkey hunting vest. If there is decent ground
cover, you won't need one, but if the woods are fairly open, I will risk taking
a few extra moments to set up these very lightweight, effective and portable
blinds. I know that over the years, I have killed some birds which I otherwise
would not have taken, had it not been for the extra cover the blind provides.
No Need For A Decoy
In this buddy hunting situation I do not bother with a decoy. Nothing against
decoys mind you, I have shot a lot of gobblers over decoys and hopefully will
knock down a few more. But in this buddy system the whole idea is for the
caller, who will be sitting anywhere from 20- to 60 yards behind the shooter,
to draw the gobbler right into the shooter's lap. A decoy will sometimes work
against that plan, because it is not unusual for a gobbler to stop and
strut-his-stuff as soon as he lays eyes on his lady-love. So just let the
caller do his job and save the decoys for other setups.
All of this works out really well IF the gobbler cooperates and sounds off
often enough so that you can keep tabs on his progress. But today, as birds are
subjected to more and more hunting pressure, it is not uncommon for gobblers to
come to the call while keeping their beaks mostly shut. In fact, some gobblers,
and often the oldest among them, come in as quiet as a hummingbird. It takes a
couple of cool customers to sit tight for a half-hour or longer with no outward
sign that a gobbler is sneaking along slowly in your direction. And make no
mistake my friends, even a bird, which stands four feet high at the tip of its
snood and weighs 20 pounds or more, can move through the woods as silently and
effortlessly as a wisp of ground fog.
The really cool thing about tag-teaming turkeys, is
that both you and your buddy (or buddies) get to enjoy in the excitement of the
hunt. By the way, if you are hunting as a threesome, just have the shooters set
up 20 yards apart (parallel of course).
It should go without saying, that safety comes first in any buddy hunting set-up. Always know exactly where your
partner (s) are sitting at all times and never pull the trigger until you are
100 percent sure that not only is your target a real turkey, but that there is
not another hunter in line with the gobbler.
And one last bit of advice, let the caller do all of the calling. If the
shooter starts calling it ruins the setup because then the gobbler will look
for the nearest hen and the whole idea is to have him coming to the caller who
is setup behind you.
This is an absolutely deadly tactic when two or three hunters are hunting
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Gary Clancy writes a weekly column for sportsmansguide.com. Gary has hunted whitetail deer in 20 different states and provinces. He has harvested many record-book animals, and presented hunting seminars from Tennessee to Wisconsin. Gary also has authored or co-authored six hunting books, four on whitetail hunting.